The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
(Isaiah 5:7, and the response to the Psalm)
For the third week we are in the vineyard. Two weeks ago we heard about the labourers in the vineyard. Last week we heard about the sons of the vineyard owner, and this week it is the tenants, and the servants, who come to the forefront of our attention.
Yet in each parable there is a constant figure in the background. We don't learn much about him, but he is vital to all three stories. He, of course, is the Vineyard owner.
The parallels are fairly obvious. The owner of the vineyard is the Father, God himself. He hires, pays, orders and owns. The vineyard is his.
And the characters in the stories are us. The workers, the sons, the servants, the rebellious tenants. At times good, at times bad, but at all times responsible to the Owner.
But what about the vineyard? It is not simply the Jewish people, or the world, or human society, or even 'the kingdom of heaven'. The Vineyard is God's Creation, his purpose, the workings of his love, his entire plan for humanity. This is truly what it meant when we say the Vineyard is the House of Israel.
And we are imperfect stewards. Sometimes rebellious. Sometimes obstinate. Yet often rewarded beyond what we deserve.
This weekend our second collection supports the work of Cafod. In supporting the work of this agency we do not only give money to rescue those in crisis, but we also support many many projects that enable people in the developing world to help themselves: to dig wells, to provide clean water, to sow crops, to build schools. In supporting Cafod we try to be good stewards of God's vineyard to enable others to be God's stewards too.
And the final reward is not material comfort, nor even the contentment from the well being of others, but the satisfaction of an invitation to the Vineyard of the Father, the Kingdom of God, the House of Israel.