The First Reading today from Isaiah speaks of an owner of a vineyard and is addressed by the writer–or singer–as beloved. The landowner has a fertile hill, planted with choice vines. Soon enough the tone changes and we see that the vineyard is to be destroyed. God is a protective Creator and does not want the pleasant plantings to suffer. The Gospel reading follows this thinking with the parable of the landowner who watches his slaves and son be killed while trying to gather the produce. These are hard readings.
The Second Reading ironically tells us to not worry about anything but instead to give thanks when praying. God’s peace surpasses all understanding and this will guard our hearts and minds. After the other readings, I must confess that I would be worried but the next line holds a clue–we are asked to think about the things that are noble, just, true, pure, pleasing, and just. If we keep on doing these things we will not kill the slaves and destroy the vineyard.
This afternoon I saw Going Home Star, a world-premiere of a ballet about Indian Residential Schools. Here is the perfect example of a vineyard gone wild. Families entrusted their children to the government and church only to see them devoured. Generations later the fields still run with blood. This ballet is painfully powerful in places where hope struggles to survive. We see two of the principal dancers healed profoundly through traditional means. They begin to hold on to what is just, commendable and excellent, drawing from what they know of their ancestors’ ways.
The Beloved Vineyard Owner will not stand by and do nothing. God loves us and longs for wholeness for us. God will care tenderly for the field.