Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
PRODUCING GOOD FRUIT
FOR THE KINGDOM
In this portion of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus has been speaking directly to “the chief priests and elders of the people” because they had questioned his authority to teach in the Temple. He tells the story of a vineyard. Whenever we hear mention of a vineyard in the Gospels, we must remember that the Old Testament repeatedly refers to Israel as God’s vineyard.
Unlike vineyards found in Europe and in the United States, Palestinian farmers do not string the vines on arbors but allow the plants to hug the ground. In the time of Jesus, there were hedgerows surrounding most of the vineyards to keep away predators - rabbits, foxes, etc.
Stone watchtowers stood in the middle of the fields. Farmers perched there, keeping watch on their crops in the last precious days before harvest. Thieves were known, then and now, to swoop in and strip the grapes from their vines when they were ready for market.
Take away the modern paved roads and the electrical wires, scenes like this today on the rolling hills leading south to the ancient city of Hebron are little different than what Jesus and his disciples saw when they walked that same route 20 centuries ago.
The hedges, the watchtowers, and, most of all, the vineyards flush with grapes, with the promise of wine and food, were sources of joy and nourishment.
No wonder that care for the vineyard became one of the Bible’s enduring symbols for God’s care for Israel.
One of the most famous of these texts is our first reading for this Sunday, from the prophet Isaiah. The Lord laments the plight of a friend who planted a vineyard on a fertile hillside, cultivated it, built a tower, prepared a wine press, and waited eagerly for the harvest. He was disappointed when, despite his care, the vineyard yielded only wild grapes instead of plump, sweet grapes.
The vineyard symbolizes God’s people, Israel.
Despite God’s loving care, they produce bitter fruit instead of sweet grapes. Isaiah portrays God’s deep disappointment, like a parent stricken by the ingratitude of a wayward son or daughter.
“The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his cherished plant; he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! For justice, but hark, the outcry!”
The counterpoint to the prophet’s lament is the earnest prayer of the responsorial psalm that also uses the symbol of the vineyard as an image of God’s care for his people. “Once again, O Lord of hosts, look down from heaven, and see; take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted. . . . Then we will no more withdraw from you; give us new life, and we will call upon your name. O Lord, God of hosts, restore us; if your face shine upon us, then we shall be saved.”
Jesus, too, savored the image of a vine as a symbol of God’s people, drawing directly on the comparison made by Isaiah before him.
The parable of the landowner who has a deadly struggle with the tenants of his vineyard becomes an allegory of God’s sometimes frustrating relationship with his people, a struggle that continues into the lifetime of Jesus himself.
In this parable, a landowner (who represents God) planted a vineyard with great care, making sure it was well-protected so that it could produce good fruit to make good wine (righteousness and covenant faithfulness). He “leased it to tenants” (the priests and religious leaders in Israel); they were to oversee the fruitfulness of the vineyard.
The owner sent his servants (the prophets) to “obtain his produce,” but the tenants believed the vineyard actually belonged to them so they beat and even killed these representatives of the owner. Finally, the owner decided to send his own son (Jesus) to the vineyard, reasoning, “They will respect my son.” However, the tenants were threatened by the son’s appearance, because they knew that ultimately, the vineyard would belong to him instead of them. So, “they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.” In this, Jesus is describing in detail what the religious leaders would soon do to him. He was seized, beaten, and killed outside the city walls of Jerusalem.
The point of Jesus’ parable is drawn by Matthew at its conclusion: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
The “you” in this verse refers to the religious leaders who in Matthew’s Gospel consistently reject and condemn Jesus.
God’s vineyard belongs instead to those who “produce its fruit,” the good works of Jew and Gentile alike.
The good wine is now most bountiful in God’s “cherished plant,” the Church, the new community of faith, bearing fruit through faith among every people and nation. We pray that our lives may bear good fruit, for God's glory and the salvation of all.
En esta parábola, un terrateniente (que representa a Dios) plantó una viña con mucho cuidado, asegurándose de que estuviera bien protegida para que pudiera producir buenos frutos para hacer buen vino (justicia y fidelidad al pacto). Lo “arrendó a arrendatarios” (los sacerdotes y líderes religiosos en Israel); ellos debían supervisar la productividad de la viña.
El dueño envió a sus sirvientes (los profetas) a “obtener su producto,” pero los labradores pensaron que la viña en realidad les pertenecía, por lo que golpearon e incluso mataron a estos representantes del dueño. Finalmente, el dueño decidió enviar a su propio hijo (Jesús) a la viña: “Respetarán a mi hijo.” Sin embargo, los labradores se sintieron amenazados por la aparición del hijo, porque sabían que al final, la viña le pertenecería a él en lugar de a ellos. Entonces, "lo agarraron, lo arrojaron fuera de la viña y lo mataron." En esto, Jesús describe en detalle lo que pronto le harían los líderes religiosos. Fue apresado, golpeado y asesinado fuera de las murallas de la ciudad de Jerusalén.
Mateo señala el punto de la parábola de Jesús en su conclusión: "El reino de Dios les será quitado y entregado a un pueblo que producirá su fruto." El "tú" en este versículo se refiere a los líderes religiosos que en el Evangelio de Mateo constantemente rechazan y condenan a Jesús. La viña de Dios pertenece en cambio a aquellos que "producen su fruto," las buenas obras de judíos y gentiles por igual.
El buen vino es ahora más abundante en la “planta querida” de Dios, la Iglesia, la nueva comunidad de fe, que da fruto a través de la fe entre todos los pueblos y naciones.
Receiving Holy Communion
In keeping with the Covid-19 protocols of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Holy Communion is to be received reverently in the hand at this time. Unless you are members of the same household, you are asked to keep social distancing of six feet between yourself and others. Please sanitize your hands before coming forward to receive the Body of Christ.
Classes began last Thursday, October 1, at 6:30pm, in the Mother of the Americas Center. This year we will be having virtual classes with our students.
If you have not registered your child(ren) and wish to do so, please call Bea at 210-227-0126, ext. 210. You can also register for the Rites of Christian Initiation for adults and children and confirmation classes for adults and teens. Please pray for catechists: Bea Bailey (director), Nelson de los Santos, Tim and Betty Fierro, David Gutierrez, Monica Lozano, Makayla Nunez, Veronica Nunez, Charles and Janice Oualline, Cynthia Rangel, and Deacon Vincent Scheel.
Respect Life Month
Celebrate Respect Life Month with the Archdiocese of San Antonio. This is to help all of us cherish every human life. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, has called for three special Respect Life Masses during October:
Sunday, October 4, 10:00am
Saint Helena Church
Bishop Michael Boulette
Sunday, October 11, 8:00am
San Fernando Cathedral
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller
Sunday, October 25, 12:30pm
Saint Ann Church
Father Larry Christian
Please consider making a donation of diapers (any size), baby wipes, or other baby supplies to St. PJ's Children's Home. Donations can be placed at the Altar of St. Joseph in the church during the month of October. Thank you.
St. Joseph's Church Downtown is open with the usual schedule of weekday and weekend Masses, sacraments, and ministry. Because of increased coronavirus cases locally, social distancing, hand-sanitizing, and the use of a face mask are observed during church services, in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Videos of Masses
Videos of Sunday Mass and other Masses from St. Joseph's are posted on YouTube at the St. Joseph Church Downtown Media page. Special thanks to the Strelchun Family and John Francis for filming and editing these videos so beautifully. Some Masses are also live-streamed.
Remembering Those in Need
In a spirit of caring for each other in these difficult days, we encourage you to support efforts to feed our neighbors in need via Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and area food banks.
Archdiocesan Assembly 2020
Pope Francis has said, "Christianity spreads through the joy of disciples who know that they are loved and saved." This year's Archdiocesan Assembly will take place on Saturday, November 7, from 9:00am-1:00pm. The theme is "Building a Catholic Culture of Discipleship. Participants will be united as one on a virtual platform, including television, Facebook, YouTube, etc. For more information about this exciting day, visit the archdiocesan website (https://www.archsa.org) or call 210-734-1911.
Supporting St. Joseph Church Downtown
Thank you for supporting St. Joseph through our parish website (
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Anthony Schueller SSS
on Monday, October 5 at 3:45PM