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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Where the Wild Things Lead Us: XXVII Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend’s readings call to mind the immortal words of The Troggs: “Wild thing, you make my heart sing.  You make everything groovy.  Wild thing, I think I love you.”

Have you ever noticed that we are attracted to things that are wild…things that are untamed, uncultivated, maybe a bit risky or even dangerous?  These wild things are exciting, they get our hearts racing and our blood pumping.  It’s the risk that makes them fun, right?  Of course!

Today we hear Isaiah talking about a man who plants a vineyard.  When the crop comes in, though, he finds that the grapes are wild.  They have a sour taste and are no good for making wine.  Despite his best efforts to cultivate the vines and produce a good harvest, the wildness has taken over and make his grapes unpalatable.  And so what does he do?  He destroys the vineyard. The wild grapes are not worth saving. 
Similarly, in the Gospel today, Jesus tells a parable of a man who puts his vineyard in the hands of tenants.  These tenants become greedy and wicked—wild, if you will—and their iniquity has the vineyard taken from them.  As Jesus tells us in the Gospel, this vineyard is the Kingdom of God, which will be taken from wicked tenants and given to tenants who will yield fruit.

The wildness of our hearts—our sinful nature—compels us to be wicked tenants at times.  We get sucked into every sort of wildness.  And yet both of these readings make it very clear to us that God has no tolerance for the wild grapes of sin and wickedness, and our choosing to bear wild fruit will ultimately forfeit our rightful place in the Kingdom of Heaven as God’s children. 

The Troggs were wrong, I’m sorry to say.  These wild things that compel us to sin, that lead us away from the vineyard of the Lord and into the wilderness, do not make everything groovy.  On the contrary, they force us to destroy the very covenant that God has made with His People. 

And so how do we avoid becoming wild?  Or how do we reverse the transformation into wild grapes?  St. Paul gives us the answer in his Letter to the Philippians.  He tells us to seek out those things which are good and true, those things which are pure and excellent, and worthy of praise.  These are the things with which we should concern ourselves with, the things which we should contemplate and seek out—the things of God.  He tells us not to look toward novelty, but to cling to that which we have received through Faith, that which we already know to be right and just. 

These are the things of Faith, the things of God.  And it is these things—not the wild things of the Troggs—that make everything groovy.  The things of God are what make our hearts truly sing—sing His praises with the Saints in glory!  And it is these things which we are called to know and love.  May God give us the strength to shy away from the wild things of sin and death, and to seek out the things of purity and virtue, through which we will inherit the vineyard of the Lord and truly be able to yield a good harvest for our Lord and Master in this life, and in the life to come.

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