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Youth Ministry Resources - 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matthew 21:33-43 - Parable of the owner of the vineyard - 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Once again Jesus addresses a parable to the chief priest and elders of Jerusalem. These men are the leaders of the Jewish community so the Jewish people are under their direction and care. Jesus is telling this parable against their leadership because they had rejected and killed the prophets who had been sent by God. Jesus, who would also be killed, was not only the last and greatest prophet but also the beloved son of God.

It is not too hard to allocate parts for the various players in this parable - the vineyard is Israel and the landowner is God, the wicked tenants are those leaders who reject the reign of God and the emissaries are the prophets who have been killed by the people of Israel, and the son of course, is Jesus who died outside the city of Jerusalem. As Matthew's Gospel was written after the destruction of the Temple in 70CE there are clear references from the destruction of the vineyard to the destruction of the Temple.

It is helpful to remember that this Gospel was written for people who were trying to define themselves against the ruling Judaism of the late 1st Century and so there would have been dialogue and disputes with the Jewish authorities that eventually led to the breaking of relations and the emergence of the Christian religion. That is why we hear of the rejection of the cornerstone because without the cornerstone the Jewish religion cannot come into the fulfilment of the covenant.

The tenants in the vineyard arrogantly think that by killing the son they will inherit what is not theirs. Ironically, the vineyard which the wicked tenants attempt to gain by violence is freely given to those who will produce its fruit. This is a stumbling block for many of us because we continue to behave as if we have to earn God's love and a place in God's kingdom. Too frequently we can become entangled by our faults (or the faults of others) and decide that because we are unlovable we must earn God's favour.

The challenge for each of us is to consider the fruit we are producing. Are we producing sour or wizened grapes of selfishness and materialism or the full bodied grape that produces a fine vintage worthy of the blood of Christ?

Cate Mapstone

Year C: Luke 17:5-19 - The importance of faith - 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We frequently hear that faith is a gift, something we receive from God. We also know that faith is caught not taught, that if your children grow up in a faith filled home that influence is of prime importance. Many parents frequently bemoan the lack of faith exhibited by their children and are concerned about their children's lack of attendance at mass. There are two separate issues happening here.

The first issue if a presumed lack of faith with the disciples asking Jesus to increase their faith. The disciples who we all assume had significant faith to be followers of Jesus in the first place, are worried that they lack sufficient faith to face the opposition to their commitment to Jesus and other destructive forces in their society. Hence their appeal to Jesus to increase their faith.

Jesus uses everyday items to explain how much faith is needed. A mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds known and a mulberry trees is rather large with extensive roots and you would never choose to transplant a mulberry tree let alone transplant it into a deep sea. So Jesus rather exaggerates the example to show that genuine faith can bring about quite unexpected things.

All you need is to accept that nothing is impossible to God so it is a matter of taking the risk, of stepping out in faith knowing that God is in the midst of what we do. God's power and graciousness know no bounds and we, with our tiny faith have a role to play in changing the world by placing our concerns and dreams in God's hands.

The second issue raised is when we have done our duty - lived fully a Christian life - we are not empowered to a claim credit from God. God's acceptance of us is not based on the good works we do rather on the graciousness of God and that remains sheer gift. Today's passage has been argued through the Reformation debate on Luther's claim that we are saved by faith alone.

Yes, we are called by our faith to do 'good works' as we live out our Baptism but there is always the understanding that we do 'good works' without drawing attention to them or ourselves. Jesus makes it clear that there is no point in expecting thanks, "we have done no more than our duty."

We are called to be people of faith who live our Christian lives to the full. That life is lived out firstly in our home and in our closest relationships, it is here that we recognise Christ in one another, it is here that we are strengthened to go out to our workplace and leisure to be people of faith.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time