History repeats itself. In the Song of the Vineyard in Isaiah, his “friend” prepared a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He spaded it, cleared it of stones and planted the choicest vines. He built a watchtower within it and hewed out a wine press. He did everything right only to be disappointed in the end. Because what it yielded was wild grapes. Jesus gave a quite similar story. A “landowner” planted a vineyard. He put a hedge around it, dug a wine press and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants. Just like Isaiah’s friend, the landowner did everything right in the beginning, only, to be disappointed in the end. Both stories had tragic endings. The stories are the same, except that, the first is bad and the second, worse.
This seems to be going on forever. From the beginning of time, God created everything good. Everything He creates is good, true and beautiful. But we can see bad, falsehood and ugly. And these negatives are even getting worse. Is there hope still left for humanity, for the world? Are we heading towards destruction? Many say that the signs in the scriptures are already here, happening.
One of my friend’s children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He likes chicken nuggets. Every time they go to Burger King or McDonald’s, they have to order at least 10 chicken nuggets for him. He does not like sharing. Take a piece and he will throw tantrums. It is all or nothing for him. I like teasing him by trying to pinch one of the nuggets, on his watch. It works each time. Until one day, I took one nugget and he saw it and he looked the other way. It surely was a permission granted.
The soil, the vine and the tenants can be very selfish many a times. They can easily go from bad to worse. But they are not hopeless cases. The “friend” and the “landowner” will tirelessly cultivate the vineyard. They will be consistent with their love and concern for them. They expect good fruits because they believe the vineyard can produce them. They know it because they made them.
Do not be deceived when it seems that there is nothing good happening. Do not despair. We are a people of hope because God planted the seeds of faith in our hearts. He may allow us to go through trials because He knows our capacity. And whatever we lack, He will definitely provide for us.
St Paul is encouraging us to keep on doing what we have learned and received. It is no less than the grace of faith. Think about whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is gracious. Think about God. He never stops thinking about us. History may repeat itself but grace changed history forever.
Fr Gilbert Ramos