Isaiah 5:1-7 – The 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time â€“ for Sunday, August 18, 2013
â€œLet me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyardâ€¦â€ (Isaiah 5:1)
Imagine a vineyard.
Vineyards symbolize the most precious vow Iâ€™ve taken. I wear golden grapes and vines on my left hand. Inspired by the fifteenth chapter of John, a friend designed the wedding rings my wife and I wear.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them will bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
Throughout all of Biblical times, Old and New Testament, in the myths, parables and history of Israel, vineyards represented life. They literally provided a safe drink and symbolized stability for an individual and community.
Though grapes were not specifically mentioned, Genesisâ€™ third day of creation witnessed vegetation spreading across the newly formed earth. Bring forth seed that becomes fruit!
In the mythology of the flood (Genesis 9:20), the first Noah planted on the still moist ground were vines. A verse later, faster than you can say Chardonnay, Noah was already guzzling the harvest, soon to become a fall-down drunk.
Wasnâ€™t that first post-flood vineyardâ€”with the quickest time from planting a vine to drinking wine ever recordedâ€”a cautionary story?
Jesus, of course, in several parables, used vineyard imagery. One, the so-called parable of the wicked tenants (Mark 12:1-12, Matthew 21:3-46 and Luke 20:9-19), depicted mayhem and murder between the rows of vines. There was punishment for those who didnâ€™t follow the ways of . . . of God, of justice, of compassion? And long before Jesus took his listeners into a familiar field of grapes as a backdrop for a tale of divine disappointment, Isaiah 5:1-7 scribed a bitter â€œlove songâ€ about a vineyard gone wrong. If you donâ€™t want to search any of the winey Gospel accounts of mayhem and murder, or to physically or digitally thumb through Isaiah to â€œhearâ€ the fifth chapterâ€™s vineyard lament, let me summarize the grape tales for you . . .
People of faith lose (abuse, ignore, deny, trivialize) their faith and God got grumpy. Isaiah 5 summarized Godâ€™s reason for destroying the vineyard (aka, Israel) with: God expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry. Iâ€™m polite when I referred to Godâ€™s response as grumpy, since the divine â€œhandâ€ ripped apart the gift of the vineyard. Instead of toasting the people of Israel, their vineyard became toast.
Iâ€™d prefer to avoid this vile vineyard view of holy vengeance. Continue reading →