UPDATE: I originally posted the wrong audio widget for this homily.
The correct widget is now in place.  Thanks to KS!)
Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

If the story Jesus tells here were a movie,
you can imagine what the trailer would be like: 
power, land, money, jealousy, greed, intrigue, betrayal and murder! 

It would be a movie you wouldn’t send your kids to!
But it’s all here in the gospel.

These things are found not only in our entertainment -
they’re the stuff of daily headlines as well.
And the news these past few months
has been too terrifying, too gory and grisly,
even to mention in the company of our young ones.

At one time or another, hasn’t each of us wondered,
 “Why does God let such horrible things happen?
Why does God allow hunger and poverty, terrorism and war –
and especially, why does God allow the innocent to suffer?
Why doesn’t God do something about this?”

Well, consider how Isaiah’s initially cheerful song about the vineyard
takes a turn to sour wild grapes
and ends with judgment and bloodshed.

Was it the tender care of the vineyard owner
that led to a bitter harvest?
Was it the owner who brought the bloodshed?

The answer lies in the allegory:
the Lord’s vineyard is his own people, his beloved,
his cherished plants: 
The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
and today the vineyard of the Lord is us… 
But, when he comes to us for the harvest of all he love he planted,
he so often finds a spoiled crop of bitter ruin and bloodshed.

And I can’t help but hear God asking: 
“How could you they this happen?
Why didn’t they do something?” 

The land owner in the gospel carefully plans and lays out
what, for his own day, was a state-of-the-art vineyard:
the choicest vines, protected with hedges and a watchtower, a wall -
not to mention a new press for making wine.

All this he entrusts to others who turn on him
and hold back the harvest for themselves
and in their greed they defraud and attack and even kill those
who come to collect the owner’s rightful share.

In the end, the greedy ones themselves are the victims
and the vineyard is promised to more trustworthy servants.

And as that vineyard owner grieves the loss of his Son,
I can’t help but hear God asking: 
“How could they let this happen?
Why didn’t they do something?” 

Only last weekend we heard the Lord asking in the scriptures: 
“Tell me, my people:
is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?” 

How do we answer that question?

Of course it’s good to pray to God for world peace,
but it's just as important
that we do something to make peace where we can.

None of us are international powerbrokers
but we can be powerbrokers in our families, in our neighborhoods,
and at work and at school,
with power to resolve our conflicts, large and small.

Of course it’s good to pray to God to end to world hunger,
but just as important that we do something ourselves
to feed the hungry:
perhaps remembering every week, 52 weeks a year
and not just before Thanksgiving,
remembering to bring canned goods
from our already well-stocked kitchen cabinets
to the baskets at the church doors.

AND to reflect on how others around us at home, at work and school 
hunger for our attention, assistance, friendship, time and love
and how we might nurture and nourish and feed them, day by day.

This week, St. Paul speaks with unusual clarity
and invites us to pray with such deep trust in God
that we’re able to let go all our anxiety.

Paul asks us to fill our minds and hearts
not with angry thoughts of hatred and revenge
but rather to dwell on and to treasure, to ponder:
whatever is true, honorable, just and pure;
whatever is lovely, gracious and worthy of praise.

If we do this, says Paul, then will “the God of peace be with us.” 
In the vineyard of the world we will indeed find 
power, land, money, jealousy, greed, intrigue, betrayal and murder. 
And we will find much of the same on our own streets,
under our own roofs and in our own daily relationships.

Tell me, people of Holy Family Parish,
we who are the vineyard of the Lord:
“Is it God’s ways that are unfair or are not our ways often unfair?”

How will we answer that question?

So, let us pray for peace and for the welfare of all peoples,
and let us pray that each of us, in our own lives,
tend to that little corner of the vineyard in which each of us lives.

From a vineyard comes the wine we’ll offer at this altar today,
remembering how Jesus pressed his own life
that we might imbibe his blood in the Eucharist.

From the fields comes the wheaten bread we’ll offer at this altar today,
that we might be nourished and healed by the Body of Christ,
broken for us first on the Cross and now on this Table.

May the peace of Christ be ours in this sacrament
and strengthen us in making peace and for feeding others
in our lives and in the world.

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