Erik felt so lonely. He had been in hospital for two months and not one of his three children had come to visit him. When he had heard from the doctor about his condition he had sent an email to each one of them but no reply came. He sent his brother to visit them and tell them how sick he was. Still they had not appeared. Erik was thinking of all that he and his wife had done for the children when they were young. Since she had died, he had tried to keep in touch with them. Now he was asking himself: “What more could I have done for them?”
As we read this, perhaps some of us feel like Erik. We may have tried as best we could to help someone – our children, a friend, a neighbour – but they did not seem to appreciate how much we cared. They had turned away from us and we felt the pain and the hurt. In the 1st reading today, we hear the prophet Isaiah comparing the people of Israel, God’s people, to a vineyard. This vineyard has been given special care by God. But instead of giving him good and sweet grapes, it has only produced sour ones.
“What more could I have done for my vineyard”, was the sad cry of God who had done everything he could for his people. But all he received from them was unfaithfulness. They went away from him. They refused to follow the path he had shown them. They did not do what was pleasing to him.
The gospel story says something very much like that. Again we see a vineyard leased to some people. At a given time, the owner wants to get the harvest of grapes and sends his servants to collect the produce. But the servants are beaten by those who rented the field. One of the servants is even killed. A second group of servants suffer a similar fate. The owner decides to send his son: “They will respect my son, he said.” But the son was also killed, to the great sorrow of the father.
Both stories are really telling us of God’s love for his people all through the years. Despite his love shown in countless ways, his people do not listen to him. They give him very little or no harvest. Jesus’ stories speak words to show us what God expects from us. Looking at each one of us today, would God be inclined to say: “What more could I have done that I have not done?”
To everyone of us, God has given more than we are aware of. He has given us life and health, our body with its many gifts of sight, hearing, speech, etc. He has given us our parents and siblings, our children, our relatives and friends and all those who care about our well-being. Sad to say, we sometimes give him sour grapes – in other words, we do not live our life in the way pleasing to God our Father.
The harvest God expects from us is that of the good fruits which Paul mentions in the 2nd reading: a harvest of “truth, noble and good actions, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise.” As parents do, so does God who wants to be proud of us his children. As Jesus said: “It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit” (Jn.15:8).