Lectionary 27, Year A
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells a vineyard parable, which serves as an image of Israel, the prophets’ mission, and Christ’s death. For Christians, the vineyard also speaks of God’s love poured out in the blood of Christ, given to us for the forgiveness of sin. Grafted onto Christ the vine at baptism, we are nourished with wine and bread so that we may share Christ’s sufferings and know the power of his resurrection.
Semicontinuous First Reading: Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
The God of the exodus graciously gave Israel the Ten Commandments. Primarily stated as negative imperatives, the Ten Commandments forbid gross sins such as murder, adultery, theft, and perjury. In most of life they grant Israel freedom to live righteously, with maximum love for God and neighbor.
1God spoke all these words:
2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before me.
4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13You shall not murder.
14You shall not commit adultery.
15You shall not steal.
16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
18When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, 19and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” 20Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”
Psalm: Psalm 80:7-15
Look down from heaven, O God; behold and tend this vine. (Ps. 80:14, 15)
7Restore us, O | God of hosts;
let your face shine upon us, and we | shall be saved.
8You have brought a vine | out of Egypt;
you cast out the nations and | planted it.
9You cleared the | ground for it;
it took root and | filled the land.
10The mountains were covered | by its shadow
and the towering cedar trees | by its boughs. R
11You stretched out its tendrils | to the sea
and its branches | to the river.
12Why have you broken | down its wall,
so that all who pass by pluck | off its grapes?
13The wild boar of the forest has | ravaged it,
and the beasts of the field have | grazed upon it.
14Turn now, O | God of hosts,
look | down from heaven;
15behold and | tend this vine;
preserve what your right | hand has planted. R
Second Reading: Philippians 3:4b-14
Paul reviews some of his supposed credentials, which no longer have any bearing in comparison to the right relationship he has been given through the death of Christ. The power of Christ’s resurrection motivates him to press on toward the ultimate goal, eternal life with Christ.
[Paul writes:] 4bIf anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-46
Jesus tells a parable to the religious leaders who are plotting his death, revealing that their plans will, ironically, bring about the fulfillment of scripture.
[Jesus said to the people:] 33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?
43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”
45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
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