Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
In 1978, a man travelled to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend the funeral of Max Ellenbusch. Max had been like a father to this man for twenty years. There isn’t anything unusual about this story except that as a fifteen-year-old troubled youth, the man had taken his mother’s car for a “joy ride” and struck and killed Max’s five-year-old son.
After the tragic accident, the fifteen-year-old teenager was brought into court to face a charge of vehicular manslaughter. To everyone’s surprise, Max asked the judge to drop all charges. Instead, he gave the young man a job, and he virtually
adopted him into his family.
We might wonder, “How could Max do this?” What would you do if it was your child who was killed in such a tragic way? Could you be as forgiving as this grieving father?
If Max was a little bit crazy than, pardon the expression, so is God. The parable in today’s Gospel depicts God as a landowner, who prepared a beautiful vineyard and gives it to his people to maintain. When harvest time came, He sent His servants to obtain His produce. When the servants arrived they were killed, one by one, by the tenants. They were killed because the tenants did not want to share in the harvest—they wanted it all.
In this parable, Jesus is one of the characters. The servants of the vineyard’s owner represent all of the prophets and teachers sent by God to the people of Israel before the coming of Christ. They represent the entire history of God’s attempt to bring men back into friendship with Him through a loving call to repentance and discipleship. God, throughout the centuries, has indeed been patient.
However, even such patience could not transform men’s hearts. Therefore, God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ into the vineyard to gather the harvest. If Christ’s listeners had doubted His claim to be more than just another prophet, more than just another rabbi, more than just another great teacher and philosopher, this parable would surely cure them. Jesus Christ is Lord not just because He is better than any other religious or political leader, but because He is totally different; He is the Son of God!
Today’s Gospel narrative is a warning to us. As Christians, we must accept God’s messengers, prophets, teachers, Church Fathers, as well as, the Pope, and all of the clergy, who help us read the signs of the times. We must see in them the loving hand of God, who urges us to produce “good fruits.”
The adopted son of Max Ellenbusch amended his life due to the loving forgiveness of a man who saw the good in him. In forgiving we, too, become God-like and love without condition towards those who have committed sins against us, as well as,
toward God Himself.
Question of the Day: What is our role in taking care of the “vineyard” of the Church?
Prayer: Most loving Father, to Your grace I commend all persons, especially those who are far away from You. Have patience with us all and let us meet
happily one day in Your eternal dwelling. Amen.