In our scripture readings this weekend, both from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew, we hear of the landowner with the vineyard. In each of these God is showing us the path to the fullness of life. As each of us knows, there are many distractions and temptations in this world that lead us off the path to the kingdom of God, which we call heaven. God knows this and so He speaks to us, giving us inspiration and instruction to return to the pathway of heaven.
In the gospel, one of the points that Jesus makes is that physical violence and abuse of other people is completely contrary to who God is, and therefore everything that God has taught us. Jesus says, to His own astonishment, that people even close off their minds and hearts to good, collaborating with evil, to murder another person. Jesus makes clear in the Gospel that such actions are not the pathway to heaven but to eternal misery and self-inflicted punishment. Jesus gives us this parable because He wants none to perish, but all to have eternal life (cf. John 3:16). Jesus gives His life in order that we might have life.
In the first scripture reading, the prophet Isaiah wants us to reflect on why the vineyard is producing wild grapes instead of good grapes. God created the world good, overflowing with life, but our misuse of freedom has brought death upon us. So often our misuse of freedom is related to pride and selfishness. We were reminded at Mass last week "to have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus." In the same second reading, we were told to"do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory, rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves."
Ohioans will decide in four weeks whether it is permissible to commit acts of violence and abuse against the most vulnerable in our society. We will decide if these should be written into our Constitution through issue 1. That proposed constitutional change would legalize and protect what King Herod did at Jesus' birth - the mass killing of the Innocent. People of decency and common sense rejected that evil then and we should still reject that evil today.
Going back to our scripture readings this weekend, we are told that the wild grapes are the work of the enemy, who is named Satan. Jesus says those who commit acts of violence and murder against the innocent are wicked and in need of conversion. Let us assist them in their conversion with fervent prayers and regular fasting, especially each Friday as we recall Jesus sacrificing Himself that others may have life.
On the topic of abortion, Pope Francis recently warned us not “to be poisoned by the toxins of selfishness, individualism, and indifference.” St. Teresa of Calcutta said "any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love but to use any violence to get what it wants.” Violence and death are never the answer if a good outcome is desired. Please pray, fast, and work for the conversion of those who support abortion in any way.