Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Engaging Faith | Tue, Sep 30, 2008

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

October 5, 2008


Isaiah 5:1-7

Philippians 4:6-9

Matthew 21:33-43


October 4: Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

October 5: Respect Life Sunday

October 8: Yom Kippur / Atonement Day (Jewish) begins at sunset


Unfortunately, politics in our country often can be a contest of powerful interests, partisan attacks, sound bites, and media hype. The Church calls for a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good, and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable. 

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States, 14

By its very nature private property has a social quality which is based in the law of the common destination of earthly goods. If this social quality is overlooked, property often becomes an occasion of a passionate desire for wealth and serious disturbances, so that a pretext is given to those who attack private property for calling the right itself into question.

Vatican Council II, The Church in the Modern World, 71

It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life which is presumed to be better when it is directed towards "having" rather than "being", and which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in itself. It is therefore necessary to create life-styles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments.

John Paul II, Centesius Annus, 36

The steward is a manager, not an owner. In an era of rising consciousness about our physical environment, our tradition is calling us to a sense of moral responsibility for the protection of the environment--croplands, grasslands, woodlands, air, water, minerals and other natural deposits. Stewardship responsibilities also look toward our use of our personal talents, our attention to personal health and our use of personal property.

William J. Byron, SJ

The Bible, from the first page on, teaches us that the whole of creation is for humanity, that it is men and women's responsibility to develop it by intelligent effort and by means of their labor to perfect it, so to speak, for their use. If the world is made to furnish each individual with the means of livelihood and the instruments for   growth and progress, all people have therefore the right to find in the world what is necessary for them.

Paul VI, On the Development of Peoples, 22

Thoughts for your consideration

The story of "the vineyard and the tenants" reminds us that "all is gift."  As human beings we have been generously gifted. As the human race, we have been given a "great vineyard."  We are called to respect creation as wonderful gift. We are called to care for it well and to share its fruits generously. We are called to respect life which is God's gift.

In other words, we have a responsibility to treat our gifts as gifts - things to be treated well and things to be shared.  Jesus tells a story to get his hearers to realize how they have not responsibly used the gifts they have been given.  They have not given "back to the creator" for what they have received materially and spiritually.  "The giver (the owner - God) is disappointed."

We might ask: How do we make use of the gifts of our world - our environment, our natural resources, our talents and skills, our cultural resources, our sophisticated financial system, our advanced technology, etc.?  Have we held on to them as our private property and individual security blanket or have we used them with respect and shared them with God and others?  Has our economic system been taken over by greed rather than the common good?

We might ask: What makes for responsible consumption, the appropriate possession of private property, and an ethical sharing of wealth and resources?  How must we share our gifts with one another?  What is the fruitfulness that God is looking for?  How is the abuse of our gifts destroying our environment?

We might ask: What does the current "financial crisis" in the United States teach us about how we use our gifts and talents?  Have some of our brightest minds been distracted by greed? Have we created an unstable system for the benefit of a few and forgotten the benefit of all?  Haven't the poor already been in a "financial crisis" for a long time?

Paul writes: "... think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you."

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What "special vineyard" have you been given? 

What unmerited gift have you been given? 

From the viewpoint of justice to all how have you made use of this gift?


On this respect life Sunday, what moral issues engage your passion?

What are the urgent issues we must address?

Actions - Links

THE ELECTION:  Center of Concern materials to prepare for the upcoming election can be found at

TORTURE:  Among the many issues in the upcoming election are our policies and practices around the use of torture.  The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) has various resources and action suggestions at   The National Religious Campaign Against Torture Action Fund has various resources, questions to ask candidates, and action links at

"Crazy Facts"

Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger writes in the Washington Post: "In 2006, fully 35.5 million Americans, 4 million more than in 1999, lived in households that couldn't afford enough food, according to the Agriculture Department. Those households included more than 4 million children."

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Help us create a new heaven and a new earth.

For those who are without meaningful work with a living wage, we pray....

For those who are homeless, we pray....

For those who are in danger of losing their homes, we pray....

For those without access to medical care, we pray....

For those who are hungry today, we pray....

For those who are anxious and worried, we pray....

Prayer - Meditation

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

Where there is hatred let us sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, union;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


(The following is taken from a speech by Martin Sheen at Marquette University on Sept. 19, 2003. At the end of the speech he invoked the following poem/prayer, which is his effort at combining the Prayer of St. Francis with a poem by Tagore, India's poet laureate.)

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

We are left empty and trembling at the level of confidence placed in the power of violent weapons and the level of arrogance they have inspired in our national leadership.  But you have taught us, Lord, that arrogance is ignorance matured and "what we sow, also we reap", so Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

Descend with us into the depths of our powerlessness and fear and awaken the power of non-violent transformation as we discover your fire for the second time!

Then, Lord, let the light and heat from that fire make every thought, every word, and every deed a reflection of loving non-violent resistance to every wretched form of violence so that we may be made worthy of the long promised blessing reserved for the Peacemakers and for those who show mercy.

Lord, make us non-violent instruments of your peace, so that we may lift up the world and all its people to a place where the heart is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free; where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic calls; where words come out from the depth of truth; where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection; where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sands of dead habit; where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever widening thought and action -- into that heaven of freedom, my God, let my country awake!