In the readings for this Sunday, Oct. 8, we hear of the rebelliousness of Israel (and us) who resist being cultivated, but choose to be wild and useless instead. Citizens and leaders alike are challenged to become a good crop for God.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
The readings for this Sunday, Oct. 8, begin to prepare us for the countdown to the end of our liturgical year. We hear of God’s vineyard; the place where God plants and nourishes us, helping us to grow in God’s image and likeness so that we can become nourishment for our world. Instead, we rebel and deny God’s authority and Jesus’ authority. This comes as we are just a few weeks away from our celebration of Jesus’ perfect authority in the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. As we prepare for that, we’re given the opportunity to reflect on how we’re called to obedience as children of God.
Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes.
The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
In both the first reading and the Gospel, God calls us a “vineyard.” Vineyards are important because they are where grapes are grown, and grapes are a source of nourishment and can be used to make wine, which is important in Jewish and Christian liturgy. We are meant to be, by our allowing God to shape and form us, nourishment and people of worship for God. But, sometimes we ignore the care that God gives us, and forget all that God does for us, and instead behave in an ungrateful and useless way.
The second reading reminds us that when we have trouble seeing the good that God does for us and we become worried or afraid, we should look at everything that is beautiful and remember that God made all of that for us. We can see God’s creative love in beautiful things and know that God cherishes us. When we remember how much God cares for us, and the good things God gives us, we can be peaceful in our hearts because we know God will answer our prayers.
The Gospel parable is a foreshadowing of what the Jewish leaders would do to Jesus–the landowner’s Son. The servants who came first represent the Prophets of Israel, who were mistreated and killed for speaking God’s words to the people. God continued to love the people, even though they killed his servants, and even sent his own Son to speak to them. Because they didn’t let God shape them into the crop that they were meant to be, and chose to be sour grapes instead, they killed Jesus. God is very patient. But, if we continually choose to be sour grapes rather than letting ourselves be helpful to others, God will give our inheritance to people who will be sweet grapes.
What are some of the things that God has given you in your life to help you grow big, strong and healthy? What do you need to do to take care of yourself that will help you to be healthy?
Teenage years can be tricky because you’re on the way to adulthood, get to begin to make some decisions for yourself, are often in situations without your parents where you have to make your own choices, and are beginning to look to what your future might be. The decisions you make now matter. How hard do you find to balance your budding independence and respect for your parents rules? Do you see the value in their assistance in shaping and nurturing you to be good grapes; a useful and Godly member of society?
Are there any ways that you are rebellious against God? Are there areas of your life or heart that you refuse to allow God to cultivate? How does the beauty of God’s creation recall you to God’s presence? How useful and nourishing are you to others? What are some practical steps you can take to live a more fruitful life?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”