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God gave the Israelites a vineyard of choice grapes to harvest. To appreciate such a gift, we need to consult an expert. Once I had the opportunity to tour one of the vineyards in Napa Valley. The guide told us that to make world-class wine, you need the perfect conditions: The exact amount of rainfall, the right amount of sunlight and constant temperatures. There are only a few places on the planet that provide such conditions. Napa Valley is one of them. Imagine that God gave Israel a Napa Valley, a rare vineyard that will produce world-class wine. Let’s take this a step further. Let’s say the Israelites invited the king of Mesopotamia and his entourage to a great banquet. This king is the ruler of a superpower from the east, a powerful and feared man. There he is sitting at table. Before the food is presented, they serve drinks. The Israelites tap one of the many kegs of vintage wine that were produced by the vineyard. They fill a glass for the king. The king raises the glass to the light to inspect the texture, swirls the wine in the glass, puts the glass up to his nose to smell the fragrance, he then tastes the wine and says, “You got to be kidding. Where did you get this wine? It is fantastic.” The Israelites will say: “God gave us a vineyard that produces world-class wine.” The king says, “God must really like you guys; I think I better start worshiping your God.” And God is in heaven hearing the most powerful man on earth speaking great things about Him. That is the divine dream: The dream of the Bible, that one day all nations will gather at one table in peace agreeing that God is great.
So, God wants to check out His wonderful vineyard on earth. He pictures in His mind kegs of vintage wine stacked up to the ceiling in the warehouse ready for the feast. He envisions workers tending the grape vines and the soil. He pictures the Israelites in great joy over the gift that He has given them. He enters His vineyard, and He sees that it is just a valley of weeds: no storage house filled with barrels of wine, no workers, no grape vines. God is angry. Why does the great prophet Isaiah say that God is angry? Because there is not going to be a banquet. There is not going to be a moment when the most powerful man on earth is going to be on his second glass of wine saying, “I love your God.” There is not going to be a banquet where all the nations of the world are gathered in peace praising God. There is no dream. The divine dream has been shattered because no one went out and worked the vineyard.
In the Gospel, the father asks his sons to go to the vineyard and work. One son says “yes,” but he never went. Those are the Israelites who did not work in the vineyard and is now a valley of weeds. That is not good. The father asked his other son, and he said “No.” Perhaps he had a good reason for saying no. “But Dad…I am getting married tomorrow…I have the two little ones at home…I have to paint the house…I have an important job interview today…I have to finish my research paper.” Yes, the son had something important to do, but as he was walking away he started to think about the big picture, the divine dream that one day all the nations will be at peace sitting at the banquet table eating rich food and drinking choice wines, saying how wonderful is God. As he thinks about the bigger picture of life, he decides that his father had offered him an opportunity to do something really great: to be a part of the divine dream. The son went to the vineyard to work, and now the dream lives on.
Here is the faith lesson. We all have important tasks that need to be accomplished. We are all busy with our lives. But never forget the big picture, the divine dream. Do not forget why we were put here. We can be a part of something very special and one day all will be seated at the table of our Lord.Back to All Homilies