“..let me sing to my friend the song of his love for his vineyard..” ..his friend God has sung the love song of his beloved vineyard so often, he Isaiah, now knows it off by heart.. ..what love to compose a beautiful song, & for others to be drawn into it to such an extent that it becomes part of them; composer orchestra singer & listener.. & pray, where are you in this image of this parish as part of the family of God? What is your favourite song?..& what does its music melody & words tell me about you? .. ..about the you who wants to lovingly sing it to me..to sing is to pray twice.. “..my friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside” this Church on fertile ground, rich soil choice vines fed by generations of your families.. ; Lord have mercy “..he expected it to yield grapes..” first quality in appearance & taste ; Christ have mercy “..but sour grapes were all that it gave..” let’s be honest with ourselves, about ourselves & among ourselves..sour grapes from “sourpusses” Pope Francis’ word ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..three parts to a 1st rdg which begins with loving anticipation & ends with lasting tragedy ..part 1 expectancy then disappointment; part 2 culpability & judgementalism “who is to blame? & whose fault is it?; part 3 consequences of failure are crime & punishment, & even extermination.. Part 1 on fertile hillside..like us here south facing a graveyard or fertile ground? hours & hours of toil to dig soil, lift out stones, planting best vines he could offer it; dug a press there ready to squeeze grapes at just right moment, with loving care & eager expectation..but then bitter fruit & bitter disappointment, sour grapes..& I wondered why he built a tower in middle of vineyard? to scare off birds & preditors..& to be alert for thieves who would steal crop..a watchtower & who sits in it but watchman a caretaker..who didn’t just protect vines in this graveyard & Church, he loved them & he sang to them, prayed over them, put his heart & soul into them expectantly.. Part 2 faces up to failure & he takes crisis tragedy to community for their judgement & wisdom “what could I have done for my vineyard that I have not done?” he’d put his life soul wisdom & gone extra mile day in day out “what more could I have done?” “where did we go wrong, Fr Bede?” we brought him up, our choicest vine, we loved him to bits, taught him all we know about our faith, Catholic Primary School, Catholic High School, Mass every Sunday, happily married two beautiful children fine job no financial worries, & he’s lost his faith “what more could we have done for our beloved son?” Part 3 crucial stage deals with failure; bless him prophet Isaiah having lost heart, & bitterly disappointed reactively looks to solve problem by elimination..notice “I will tell you what I am going to do in my vineyard” he’d lost humility & wisdom of approaching the community for their wise counsel..”I will take away hedge..I will lay it waste..I will command clouds to rain no rain” he “expected justice but found bloodshed..integrity but only a cry of distress”..it sounds feels reads like a write off as he ignores neglects it & it becomes a wilderness again..like Junior House cricket pitch on East Lane; my prayer space each teatime in ARH garden 5.30pm each night..from it a wonderful vista into paradise of our valley our vineyard; view south-east through trees across cricket pavilion all way to Gilling & Church tower..tower, where caretaker Rev Catherine Reid has moved on to larger steeper vineyard as Chaplain to York Univ where she will find a lot of digging, stone clearance prep work before she plants choice vines of her Christian faith into hearts minds & lives lost, searching frightened, & finding in many of us little sympathy or understanding; judgemental sour comments of lack of common sense; harvest from vines planted in halls of residence 2wks ago..choice vines seeking a caretaker, not self-righteous middle aged law abiding distanced tax payers from right postcode districts of Leeds & York..victims of Part 3 elimination..& the students cry is “where did we go wrong Fr Bede?”..& like all finest scripture it challenges us to ask “what next?” story isn’t finished; last chapter is left for you to imagine pray & plant it..you, a choice vine ready to take sacrament of present moment forward; he “found bloodshed” indeed & what will you do about it? as caretaker from your tower..is it an ivory tower I wonder?..to notice & react, stem flow/loss of blood; to clean, to smear ointment on tearfully as you feel/share the pain & woundedness, & to bandage; to warmly encourage the broken fruitless sour in your family & in my Community to come home, & to share story of the week & the progress..& the “lack of integrity, a cry of distress?” to enable, to welcome the darnel, the branch about to be pruned collected & burned, to tell their story; words tears songs truth of story told heard & treasured; a story to be shared perhaps retold sensitively sacredly & sung about “let me sing to my friend [Christ] the song of his love for his vineyard” & his love for his choicest vines..not ones you would choose from garden centre in Pickering, but one he knows will produce grapes with potential, whereas too many of us....produce a fine crop good flavour & healthy consistent appearance, & tragically with one self-destructive flaw..a flaw you pay more for if you buy your grapes from M&S..they are seedless, ..barren infertile..to meet & greet your son or daughter who’ve lost their faith & their flavour, & share their story of life & faith inside & outside the fence..never forget some of best blackberries you have ever tasted came off plant you noticed in the wild not in your garden nor in this vineyard..”finally brothers & sisters, fill your minds with everything that is true, noble, good & pure, everything we love & honour, & everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise”, especially the vine you expect to yield nothing..did you know one of largest Trussel Trust food banks in UK is organised run & stocked managed & open at Manchester University Catholic Students Chaplaincy?..a gospel story of love rejected; the outcome of the rejection & betrayal of that love, & the new relationship that can & will emerge from it all through grace..divine grace woven with our good grace..your family story in your family vineyard doesn’t finish with a Good Friday..it re-emerges in life love & truth in the 52 Resurrection Sundays of Easter morning a year..when you leave this cherished greenhouse & go home to your vineyard, where seedless vine & fruitful vine, inside fence & outside fence, are grafted together, together again..”the stone, the vine, rejected by the builders, rejected by us the careful & judgemental precision greenhouse keepers in our faith community, becomes the keystone ..the choicest vine in crop taste & seed..”this was [is] the Lord’s doing [on this the Lord’s day] & it is wonderful to see..” [27thSunYrA Mt 21;33-43]