A Stone Rejected: vintage time

laborers-in-the-field-11thcentbyzantineCommentary. This parable begins much like Isaiah 5:1-2 (the reading from the OT accompanying our gospel). It is the third parable in Matthew with a vineyard setting (20:1-16, the workers in the vineyard; 21:28-32, the two sons). What does the vineyard represent? In Isaiah it represents Israel and many have assumed that is its meaning in the parable, e.g., the vineyard = Israel; the tenants = religious leaders; landowner’s slaves = prophets whom they rejected. With this interpretation, we note that the vineyard is not destroyed, but turned over to new tenants. To use another biblical metaphor, the unfaithful, greedy shepherds are removed (Mt 9:36; Ezekiel 34) and new shepherds are installed to care for the sheep. Continue reading

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The promise

deeplyrooted-crThere is something poetic, mysterious, and magical about a vineyard before the harvest on an early morn with the dew on the vine and a just-rising sun glistening upon the fruit. In the full light of day, if you are like me, you probably do not have any experience in the vineyards except perhaps as a visitor.

The vineyard does not just happen by itself. There is complex dance between the vine, the branches and the vine grower. For example, did you know that a single grape-vine can produce as much as 13 feet of new branch growth in one growing season. What happens if all that new growth remained un-pruned? It would not be unusual for that un-pruned vine to have as many as 300 fruit producing buds. While that might sound great, that’s way too many buds for the plant to support. You might have lots of produce, but it will be incredibly low quality, and good for not much. It would probably just end up as fuel for the fire. You would have to remove as much as 75% of the buds and other vegetative growth so the plant can properly develop and ripen the good fruit. The goal is always good fruit. Continue reading

When vintage time draws near

laborers-in-the-field-11thcentbyzantineCommentary. This parable begins much like Isaiah 5:1-2 (the reading from the OT accompanying our gospel). It is the third parable in Matthew with a vineyard setting (20:1-16, the workers in the vineyard; 21:28-32, the two sons). What does the vineyard represent? In Isaiah it represents Israel and many have assumed that is its meaning in the parable, e.g., the vineyard = Israel; the tenants = religious leaders; landowner’s slaves = prophets whom they rejected. With this interpretation, we note that the vineyard is not destroyed, but turned over to new tenants. To use another biblical metaphor, the unfaithful, greedy shepherds are removed (Mt 9:36; Ezekiel 34) and new shepherds are installed to care for the sheep. Continue reading