HOMILY FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME OF THE YEAR A
Theme: BEARING FRUITS OF THE KINGDOM
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
R1 – Is 5:1-7
RESP. PS. – PS. 80:9, 12-16, 19-20
R2 – Phil 4:6-9
GOSPEL – Matt 21:33-43.
At the age of 9, I had my first experience of disappointment and frustration; precisely, as a young desirous farmer.
I had developed the desire to have my own maize and yam farm just like my mother.
I requested for a little portion to plant my maize. I zealously did the clearing, cultivating, manuring and planting. Due to how desirous I was, after 2 days of planting I woke up early morning to check if my maize had germinated.
When I saw no signs of germination, I dug into the soil to check if the sprouting process had began.
After about 8 days the miracle happened – my maize germinated. I celebrated it.
I started going to my farm every morning.
It became a routine, every morning I attended to it before my normal morning chores.
Coming back from school in the afternoon I would branch to check on my maize.
Though it was during raining season, there was constant rain, I would still irrigate my farm.
All my Time, Energy, Talent and Treasure was concentrated on this farm.
My free time was spent admiring it and comparing it with other maize farms. My mates in school and other children around learnt about it and started calling me “onye oru ugbo.”
I was wondering why, my maize instead of undergoing the normal process just like my mother’s maize was, developed stunted growth. It prematurely released pollens and grew fruits that ended up not matured or good enough for eating.
There was no mature corn inside the ears of the cornstalk. The corn I got from my maize was observing “social distancing” (oka eze nforo). Haba!
This struck me like calamity.
Worst than my disappointment, I became a laughing stock for my friends and even my siblings. They mocked me – ‘Onye oru ugbo’.
My whole plan to eat my own corn and also preserve some for next planting season came to naught.
It was indeed a heartbreaking experience. There was nothing substantive to console my sleepless nights, hard works and doggedness.
Beloved in Christ, the overriding theme of this Sunday’s liturgy is the necessity of bearing fruit in the Christian life and how disappointing it appears when we fail to bear fruits, just like my earliest narrated experience of unproductive maize farm. The readings warn us of the punishment for spiritual sterility, ingratitude, and wickedness.
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The first reading, popularly called, Isaiah’s Song of the Vineyard, describes God’s care of, and expectations for, His Chosen People. God’s Chosen People failed to bear fruit, in spite of the blessings lavished upon them by a loving and forgiving God.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus allegorically describes the failure of the Chosen People of God and their leaders, to produce fruits of righteousness, justice and mercy, with the parable of the wicked tenants.
However, we are expected to show our gratitude to God by bearing fruits of the kingdom; fruits of the Holy Spirit, in our lives, because Jesus has given the Church everything necessary to make Christians fruit-bearing, viz:
(i) The Bible to know the will of God.
(ii) The priesthood to lead the people in God’s ways.
(iii) The Sacrament of Reconciliation for the remission of sins.
(iv) The Holy Eucharist as our spiritual food.
(v) The Sacrament of Confirmation for a dynamic life of Faith.
(vi) The Sacrament of Matrimony for the sharing of love in families, the fundamental unit of the Church.
(vii) Role models in thousands of saints.
We are expected to make use of these gifts and produce fruits for God.
*BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE PARABLE OF THE WICKED TENANTS.*
The parable of the wicked tenants is one of the parables of judgement. Hence, it is a theological summary of the entire history of the ingratitude, infidelity, and hard-heartedness of the Chosen People.
Jesus set the scenario, projecting our ungratefulness, unfaithfulness, heartlessness and wickedness that exist in the world today.
In those days in Galilee, there were many foreign owners of land in Israel. They were, you can say, ‘absentee landlords’ living in Jerusalem, Damascus, or Rome. They owned a piece of land and with this piece of land, they did provide jobs for the local people, but also made some profit for themselves.
According to Jewish law, the owner had to send representatives every year. If he failed to do so for three consecutive years, then under the Jewish law, he would lose the right to claim the fruit of that vineyard. Thus, by sending his servants year by year, he established and exercised his rights of ownership.
On the other hand, we see the attitude of the tenants from their actions. They wanted to take possession of the vineyard. They wanted to dispossess the owner and take the vineyard for themselves. This was why they set about killing the servants and finally the son too.
Nevertheless, the key idea in this parable hinges on one word which keeps coming back in the New Testament; it is the word ‘fruit’. Why would you plant a vineyard? A vineyard is where grapes are grown and the grapes are used to produce wine; which gladens the heart. So, the vineyard is planted because you want fruit.
Furthermore, God created us to bear fruits of the Kingdom, viz: “On the other hand the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control; no law can touch such things as these” (Gal. 5:22-23)
*HOW CAN WE BEAR FRUITS OF THE KINGDOM?*
St Paul in the second reading, chides us to bear fruits of the kingdom by embracing nobility, goodness, integrity, purity and virtuousness. These can be realized by checkmating the following:
*(1) CURBING SELF INTEREST*
The root of all evils in the world stems from self interest, individualism and selflessness. It was self interest that lured Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, despite God’s warning.
This is perfectly enshrined in v38. “When the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’” Can you see the reason? They wanted to have the vineyard for themselves. They wanted to be eligible to do with the vineyard and also the fruits whatever they pleased.
This is the root of the problem in the community, families and Church! Self interest is the major factor for many Christians’ inability to bear fruits. I want this, I want that, even if it entails rising on the ashes of another.
Overambitious people who seek ecclesiastical, political and leadership positions, and posts are often being destroyed by self interest and in most cases, destroying others inorder to become CWO president, Parish Council Chairman, Community PG, Eze Elect, etc.
It is individualism. It is self-centeredness. It is: “I want to do what I please; this is the way I want to have it!” If we come with this kind of attitude, insisting on our own way and on our own interests, you cannot be a true Christian. Because, at the centre of Christian virtues is “LOVE”, which is motivated by altruism (thinking of others not the self).
*(2) ESCHEWING WICKEDNESS*
Wickedness and evil crept into the world as a result of unchecked passion for self interest and self aggradisement. The first trace of evil is Lucifer’s ( lux-light + ciferus-bearer) disobedience, which was orchestrated by self interest. He wanted to be like God as recorded in Revelation 12.
Right from Adam’s, all manifestations of wickedness in the scriptures have been severely frowned at by God. No perpetuation of wickedness (evil) in the bible ever went unpunished.
Lucifer, ( lux-light + ciferus-bearer), God’s light bearer, who dwelt in the highest sphere of the angelic hosts lost his place and integrity because of disobedience and wickedness (Rev. 12). Cain who killed his brother, Abel, never took his place, rather, he paid dearly for his wickedness. God regretted creating Human beings and decided to rid off human beings from the surface of the earth because of wickedness (Gen. 6:5-7). The wickedness of Jezebel who contrived Naboth’s vineyard was not left unpunished. (Gen. 21). Even the man after God’s own heart, David, paid dearly for his wickedness over Uriah (2 Sam. 12).
*(3) FLEEING FROM INGRATITUDE*
Ingratitude, they say is the least virtue, yet the worst vice. It is the act of biting or disregarding the finger that feeds us or being indifferent to helpful gestures showered on us.
Ordinarily, almost everyone feels the pain of ingratitude. Most often, the devil uses those whom you have spilled your energy, resources and treasure to establish in life, to pull you down.
If we feel so bad, when someone who can exist and live without our largesse and benevolence shows ingratitude without the word, “THANK YOU”; what more about God who is the “fons et erigo” of our existence; who loved us beyond limits, even to the point of sacrificing his only begotten son for our salvation and sanctification.
Within the context of this parable, the best way to show appreciation to Him is to value His ministers and listening to their preaching.
Finally, a certain priest went to visit his farmer friend. He was so excited over the farmer’s exploits and developmental strides in the farm, that he started moving round the establishment.
At a point, the farmer who was taking him round, called him and said, “Fr, I will surprise you now.. The only horse we have in this farm has a religious training.” The priest who was eager to know about the horse, got more interested and excited to understand such proposition.
The farmer continued, “usually, every horse has a peculiar training on how it is taped to move, walk, run and stop. But this horse has a religious training in the sense that, for it to move, you only need to shout: thank you Jesus and for it to run, keep shouting… thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, ad infinitum. Then, when you want to stop, just shout: Praise the Lord.”
The priest who loved over speeding jumped aboard the horse and shouted, “thank you Jesus”, the horse responded by moving, and he shouted again, “praise the Lord”, the horse in return applied an ABS-brake and stopped.
The priest, getting overwhelmed and overexcited started shouting uncountable “thank you Jesus”, “thank you Jesus”, “thank you Jesus.” He was so carried away that the horse uncontrollably sped off that he forgot the stopping code, “praise the Lord.”
As he looked up helplessly with disillusionment, behold a big gully towards the extreme end of the farm. As the horse was about to end up inside the ditch, the priest remembered the code and shouted, “praise the Lord.” The horse automatically stopped, just some 3 feet away from the deep gully. Immediately the horse stopped, the priest lifted his hands and unknowingly shouted, “THANK YOU JESUS” again, in appreciation to God for saving his life while still on the horse. The operantly conditioned horse moved forward again to the gully. The priest now shouted, “praise the lord” and jumped out of the horse, singing:
Thank you Jesus, thank you
my Lord, whatever I am now,
it’s by your grace, many are
dying, many are perishing,
whatever I am now, it is by
What a funny and amazing story, but note that the priest even at the point of death, never ceased to appreciate God by saying, “thank you Jesus” that nearly ended his life.
Always make your life a living testimony to God, for His benevolence and magnanimity by bearing fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
May God help us to bear fruits of the kingdom, by curbing self interest, wickedness and always reciprocating His goodness and steadfastness in our lives.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
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