Liturgy of the Sunday

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Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi (†1226). Remembrance of the dedication of the Primavalle "little chapel" the first place of prayer of the community of Sant'Egidio in the outskirts of Rome. On October 4, 1992, the peace accord that put an end to the war in Mozambique was signed in Rome. Prayer for all those who work for peace.


First Reading

Isaiah 5,1-7

Let me sing my beloved the song of my friend for his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it, cleared it of stones, and planted it with red grapes. In the middle he built a tower, he hewed a press there too. He expected it to yield fine grapes: wild grapes were all it yielded. And now, citizens of Jerusalem and people of Judah, I ask you to judge between me and my vineyard. What more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not done? Why, when I expected it to yield fine grapes, has it yielded wild ones? Very well, I shall tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I shall take away its hedge, for it to be grazed on, and knock down its wall, for it to be trampled on. I shall let it go to waste, unpruned, undug, overgrown by brambles and thorn-bushes, and I shall command the clouds to rain no rain on it. Now, the vineyard of Yahweh Sabaoth is the House of Israel, and the people of Judah the plant he cherished. He expected fair judgement, but found injustice, uprightness, but found cries of distress.

Psalmody

Psalm 79

Antiphon

Make your face shine upon us, O Lord, that we may be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
you who lead Joseph's flock,

shine forth from your cherubim throne
upon Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh.

O Lord, rouse up your might,
O Lord, come to our help.

God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Lord of hosts, how long
will you frown on your people's plea?

You have fed them with tears for their bread,
an abundance of tears for their drink.

You have made us the taunt of our neighbours,
our enemies laugh us to scorn.

God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
to plant it you drove out the nations.

Before it you cleared the ground;
it took root and spread through the land.

The mountains were covered with its shadow,
the cedars of God with its boughs.

It stretched out its branches to the sea,
to the Great River it stretched out its shoots.

Then why have you broken down its walls?
It is plucked by all who pass by.

It is ravaged by the boar of the of the forest,
devoured by the beasts of the field.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
look down from heaven and see.

Visit this vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted.

Men have burnt it with fire and destroyed it.
May they perish at the frown of your face.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,
the man you have given your strength.

And we shall never forsake you again :
give us life that we may call upon your name.

God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Second Reading

Philippians 4,6-9

Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire -- with whatever is good and praiseworthy. Keep doing everything you learnt from me and were told by me and have heard or seen me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 21,33-43

'Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them thinking, "They will respect my son." But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, "This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance." So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?' They answered, 'He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him at the proper time.' Jesus said to them, 'Have you never read in the scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this is the Lord's doing and we marvel at it? 'I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and givena people who will produce its fruit.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes." Jesus reminds his listeners that God has a preference for the things that human beings "reject" and do not consider important or valuable. That is what Saint Francis, whose feast we celebrate today, understood at San Damiano when he heard the voice of the crucified one, who was calling him to restore his house. His house was that place, the church, but also the lives of the people. And how many people are still rejected today! They are considered useless, a weight. How much is their life worth? So it is for the Word of God, which we celebrate today in a special way. It is often forgotten among so many empty and useless words, and yet those who build their house, that is, their life, on this Word build it on rock!
It is Jesus, it is his Gospel, that gives value to life. And our lives are loved like the vineyard of which scripture speaks. There is a landowner, Jesus says, "who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower." These words recall Isaiah's "song of the vineyard" and they express all the love God has for his vineyard, that is, his people, but also the whole of humanity and the life of each one of us. It is the Lord who plants and carefully watches over his vineyard. God expects fruits from the vineyard: peace and justice, the fruits that this world is waiting for with hope. But too often what rises from the earth are the cries of the oppressed and the shedding of blood. And Jesus' parable explains what happens to the vineyard of the world, how God's love is not reciprocated. It is the story of the tenants who at the harvest take the servants sent by the landowner to collect the fruits of the vineyard and beat and kill them. It is a crescendo of greed and violence. The more the landowner tries to care for his vineyard, the more the hostility of the tenants grows. What is happening? They think of the vineyard as their property, and they start to live on it in pursuit of their personal interests. This attitude is the cause of the violence that we see spread over so many parts of the world. God's response to that hatred and growing hostility is foolhardy and gratuitous love for our humanity: "He gave his only Son." What will happen to that vineyard? It will be given to others, who will give him the fruit at the harvest time. That is to say, it will not be abandoned: God is looking for fruit, and if he does not find any, God does not tire of seeking the good in men and women. That is why he continues to sow his Word and his love in our hearts. The people are the humble and the poor that Francis of Assisi rediscovered. The poor, those who are rejected by all, are our prophets, not prophets of woe but of friendship. The Lord returns to visit us in the poor, and when we encounter them and accompany them, when we take care of those who are suffering, we let the Lord gather good fruits of mercy and peace from our lives. This is how the stone that the builders rejected can become the corner stone on which we build or lives. The things that the world does not consider, which it considers weak, like the Gospel and its invitation to believe in love, are in reality the foundation on which we can build a more solid life. And in doing so we can all work and live in the vineyard of the Lord and enter his kingdom, where we are loved by God, who looks on his vineyard with passion, and comes to visit it so that it might belong to everyone.