27th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023
Fall is upon us—the air is crisp, leaves are turning shades of gold and crimson, and it's apple season. A lot of us will be making our way to Gunnison's Orchards in Crown Point to pick that perfect apple, the result of months of labor and care by the orchard workers.
It's a season of harvest, not just for apples but for us, as we examine the fruits of our own labors in the spiritual orchard that is our life.
That is precisely the point of today's Gospel. Here we have not an apple orchard but a vineyard. The landowner invested just as much as any orchard owner today would—planting, nurturing, and expecting a fruitful harvest in return. But unlike Gunnison's, where the fruits of labor are proudly displayed, this biblical vineyard yielded a grim harvest of disappointment.
The landowner's servants and his son, symbolizing the prophets and Jesus Himself, are violently rejected. Their mission was to guide them and show them the way. Instead they produced sour grapes!
Sometimes we produce 'sour grapes'—failures to recognize and act on God’s expectations. Like a harvest of disappointing fruit, our actions fall short of what God had hoped for us.
Why do we sometimes fail to recognize and act on God's expectations? The answer is complex and varies from person to person, but there are common stumbling blocks.
We live in a world of endless distractions—social media, busy work schedules, and the constant hum of entertainment—all vying for our attention and diverting us from spiritual matters. This makes it challenging to hear the quiet voice of God calling us to bear good fruit.
Additionally, the reasons can be deeply rooted in our hearts. Selfishness can blind us to God's will, while fear and doubt may paralyze our actions.
Pride can make us believe that we know better, leading us to ignore or even defy God's expectations. And then, of course, there's sin, which darkens our hearts and clouds our judgment.
So how do we turn these 'sour grapes' into a harvest that meets God's expectations? It begins with self-examination, repentance, and a heartfelt desire to change.
We don’t have to do it alone. We must seek the grace of God, the wisdom of the Scriptures, and the support of our community. Whether it's through prayer, reconciliation, or spiritual guidance, we have resources to become better versions of ourselves.
In the movie "Jerry Maguire," Tom Cruise plays a sports agent at a crossroads in his life and career. In an unforgettable scene his client, Rod Tidwell, portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr.,is demanding real commitment and loyalty, not just empty promises.
He shouts an unforgettable line, "Show me the money!"
Similarly, God is shouting out to us, “Show me the money!” Or in the context of today’s readings, “Show me the fruits!”
God wants to see the fruits of our faith. He is demanding real, tangible signs of our commitment not just in words, but in meaningful actions.
What are these fruits? Well, they can vary from person to person, but they often involve active participation in the community: volunteering at a food bank, organizing parish activities, mentoring young people in the faith, or simply being a comforting presence for the sick or a neighbor in need.
Just as the fall season and apple-picking offer us only a brief window of time, so too is our opportunity to work in God's vineyard limited. Life is short.
Let’s use this brief, precious span to cultivate the fruits of our faith, to contribute meaningfully to our communities, and to meet God's expectations of us.
Let us show Him the money!