Homily – Fr. James Conner – 27th Sunday of Year – Yr A “Fear not! It is I”.

Our gospel today must be seen in the light of all that took place in chapter 21. It begins with Jesus entry into Jerusalem. The gospel tells us that “all of Jerusalem was in an uproar”. The Jewish authorities asked Him: “By what authority do you do these things?” Jesus responds by telling them the parable about the vineyard. The Jews would have immediately recognized that he was referring to Isaiah – our first reading today. “The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel. He looked for justice and behold bloodshed; for righteousness and behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold a cry”.

Jesus would have left no doubt in their minds that he is a true minister of the Lord. “All authority in heaven and on earth is given Me” By this time he would have fully realized that he has been sent not only to the lost of Israel, but for all peoples. He learned that lesson from the Canaanite woman, whom he had first referred to as a dog. He knew that he must bring the word of salvation, not only to the people of Israel – the vineyard of the Lord – but to all who will heed his message.

This means that we ourselves are now that vineyard of the Lord. He looks to us to bring forth fruit and signs of life. This brings us to our second reading from Philippians. We are to have no anxiety about anything. This refers us back to his message that we are to be like the birds of the wir, who have no anxiety, but receive all they need from their heavenly Father, for even the hairs of our head are numbered. Hence we are simply “in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let our needs be known to God, Trusting that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

But we live at a time of great anxiety – a time of the covavirus, a time of crucial elections in our nation, a time of unemployment and loss of income for millions. And yet Jesus is telling us “have no anxiety” – to have trust in God for all things – to believe that all will be provided by our heavenly Father. It is only in that way that we will be able to yield that harvest that the Father is looking for. For now WE are the vineyard of the Lord. WE are to yield a harvest of trust and confidence in our heavenly Father. That is the whole purpose of our monastic and contemplative life. That is what we are to show forth to the world at this time.

Hence Paul can exhort us – and all peoples today – “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Rather than allowing our minds and our world to be filled with anxiety and fear, we are to have trust in our heavenly Father. We are to heed the message of Jesus. Rather than allowing our hearts to be filled with doubt, as the Jewish authorities of Jesus’ time, we are to have faith in His word that He is truly the Love of God made manifest to us, calling us to heed his word as it is given to us in the Gospels, and to have trust – not fear. Truly He tells us, as he told his disciples: “Fear not! It is I”. Truly, as the song tells us: “He’s got the whole world in His hands – He’s got you and me – brother and sister – in His hands.”