Faith Questions

27th Sunday of Year A

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The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;


The prophet Isaiah becomes increasingly upset that King Ahaz (King of Judah – southern part of Holy Land including Jerusalem) is willing to enter a partnership with a foreign Kingdom (Assyria) to fight Israel – northern part of Holy Land). Isaiah shares God’s anguish in the form of a ‘love story’: what more could I have done for my vineyard? Instead of the fruit of peace and justice there is bloodshed and war! Imagine a relationship where you have done everything you could to show your love. Yet the only fruit of the relationship is pain.

What would you do? Is ‘taking away its hedge, giving it to grazing’ abandonment or ‘starting all over again’?


Paul is writing from prison to his much loved community in the town of Philippi. It is a Roman town occupied by many ex roman soldiers. There is a Jewish community that is uneasy with the Christian community. There is the ‘Roman – Gentile’ community cautious of christians who are perceived as ‘against Rome’ and setting up another ‘kingdom’. Into this mix are ultra conservative Jewish Christians (Judaizers) who seek to influence Gentile converts to Christianity that they must first become initiated into Judaism with circumcision and food purity laws before converting to Christianity. Added to this two prominent women in the christian community are in dispute taking each to court!

What would you write in a letter to help this community? Do you think Paul’s words would help? Paul humbly holds himself up as an example of unity and reconciliation to follow. What do you think people ‘learn, receive, hear and see in you’?


The Gospel of Matthew is leading closer to the end of the year with ‘judgement parables’. The Parable of the Vineyard spoke to the present but pointed to the future. Those entrusted with care (Chief Priests and Elders) of God’s people (vineyard) have been found resistant to the prophets and even ‘throwing the son out of the vineyard and killing him’ reference to Jesus being killed  outside the city of Jerusalem. The Parable however is chaotic and does not reach a real conclusion.

What will happen now? Who will control the vineyard? How would this be done? If the Christian Church becomes the New Israel (Vineyard) it is still required to produce the ‘appropriate fruit’. What do you think the appropriate fruit is of being a member of ‘God’s family’?

The parable ends with a challenge: membership of the church does not guarantee membership of the Kingdom of God. Imagine joining a club by payment of a members fee.

What else is required?


SOURCE: Living the Word resources are created by Fr Frank Bird a Marist priest and Mrs Bev McDonald, ACSD, distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ 



1. One of the great insights of Israelite religion at its best was the inseparability of worship and justice. Seeking justice and acting justly lie at the heart of the faith project.

Where do I stand? What is my practice? How do I promote justice? Remember, justice is always concrete and real and never abstract and merely ideal.

2. The loving imagery of tending the vine is very appealing. If I were to create an image for my own faith in God’s love, what contemporary image would come to mind?

3. The “song” invites us reflect on our response to the grace and gifts of God.



1. What choices to I make to surround myself with whatever is excellent or praiseworthy?

2. Have I known the peace of God, deep within, in time of trouble?



1. The target audience of this allegorical parable are the Jewish chief priests and elders portrayed here as rejecting Jesus and his teaching, and as a consequence losing out on what God was offering them. It is a story of opportunity for life presented and rejected, and they lose out in the process.

How important have you found it to recognise and accept oppor- tunities for growth, development and new life when these were presented to you?

2. The parable is also a cautionary tale about the destructive effects of greed – doing violence to the rights of others and eventually destroying the greedy themselves.

What attitude towards pos- sessions has helped you to be at peace in yourself and at peace with others?

3. The vineyard of the Lord is an image for God’s people. Recall times when you have been a good tenant, and reached out caringly for those around you.

As we look at the vineyard we have been given, we can ask ourselves “are we good tenants?”

4. “It was the stone rejected by the builders that became the keystone. This was the Lord’s doing and it was wonderful to see”. Sometimes a person not highly regarded plays a key role in a project, and it is wonderful to see.

Can you recall examples of this?


SOURCE: Hearers of the Word


“What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done?” Could we have done anything to prevent discrimination? What could we have done to prevent global warming? What can we do now to rectify other wrongs? Might these crises be comparable to the “wild grapes” Isaiah sings about in his friend’s vineyard?

What are some things you could do if you discover that all the “grapes” in your spiritual garden were all turning out small or sickly?


What would happen to anxieties in the world right now (e.g. global warming, gun violence, immigration, racial injustice) if all people embraced whatever is true, whatever is honorable, or just, or pure, or lovely, or gracious, … anything worthy of praise?


Who are God’s messengers right now? What changes in society do they advocate? How can you somehow be God’s envoy in your community, work, Church or the world? Will you move toward necessary changes in society? 


SOURCE: Sunday Web Site at Saint Louis University


1. Do you have a sense that some members of the Church are there just for the benefits? For their personal salvation? For what they can get spiritually out of going to church? What percentage of members, in your estimation, lack a clear sense of personal responsibility for the ministries and the works of the parish?

2. What would you suggest should be done to help the average parishioner become more aware of his/her responsibility for bringing in the harvest for God? Is there an effective way to teach stewardship of time and talent in the service of God? What is being done in your parish to recruit more workers for the vineyard of the Lord?

3. Do you think there are too few who do too much so that others do not see that there is any room for them in the service of the church community?


Take a walk around your neighborhood. Look at the homes, the shops, the banks, the industries, the people. Put a big mental label on the whole thing: THIS IS THE VINEYARD OF THE LORD. Try to decide where in this environment God has called you to become responsible.


SOURCE: Portland Diocese


Was there a verse or aspect in the first reading that challenged you?


Paul says: “Have no anxiety at all….” Easier said than done. What helps you to deal with anxiety?

Paul says: “Keep doing what you have learned.” Can you name one or two lessons you have learned in the course of your life?


We may throw ourselves into many things—e.g., children, relationships, parish, business, gardening— but in the end, all our efforts could produce “sour grapes.” What helps you to deal with poor results from a lot of effort?

How can we resist God’s call to ongoing conversion?

What is Jesus saying to us this Sunday about how a faithful disciple should act?


Share with the person next to you one way you can act on this week’s readings. Suggestions: Be aware of what causes you to be anxious and how you deal with it. Be conscious of how God may be calling you to some form of conversion and how you may be resisting it.


SOURCE: Ascension Catholic Parish, Melbourne, FL

Word Sunday


27th Sunday of Year A

Calling Upon God When Times Are Bad

Why do churches fill with petitioners when times are bad, but seem half empty in good times?

The key to interpretation lay in verse seven. From this vantage point, the song makes sense. God planted his people like a vineyard. He granted it protection and favor (choice vine planted on a fertile hill with hedges and a look-out tower). [5:1-2] Isaiah then challenged a popular view the people had about themselves (“We are the Chosen People”) with a call for judgment. The fruit of such a carefully planted and tended vineyard was sour; the people God protected and grew was unfaithful and unjust. [5:3-4] What should God do? At this point, the prophet declared the judgment: God would abandon his people, just as his people had abandoned him. [5:5-6]

It is only natural we call upon God when we feel endangered. But, this is not the only time to take God seriously.

How do you take God seriously? When have you called upon the Lord in need? What happened?

SOURCE: Word-Sunday Permission for use. All materials are the property of Larry Broding (Copyright 1999-2022). Viewers may copy any material for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

27th Sunday of Year A

Come, Lord, Restore Us

How have you prayed in times of desperation? What were the results of those prayers?

There’s a story about an airplane that spinning out of control. As the passengers realize they are about to die, some curse while some pray. While I admit this story probably began as a flight of fancy, it does clearly define how people react in times of desperation. Some look inward only to find despair. Others reach out to God.

Psalm 80 was a prayer that grew out of desperate times, but not times of despair. It is not an inward reflection on hopelessness, but a cry to the Lord for help. The psalm looked forward to better days, when the Lord would restore his people.

SOURCE: Word-Sunday Permission for use. All materials are the property of Larry Broding (Copyright 1999-2022). Viewers may copy any material for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

27th Sunday of Year A

The Good Example

Who do you know that shows good example for others? Why are these people admirable?

At the end of the passage, Paul offered himself as an example of prayer and solid living. While this might seem a exercise in pride and bravado, Paul actually had a point. Even though he preached to the Gentiles and made himself unclean by socializing with them, he was a highly educated and observant Jew; he knew and obeyed the Law. Greek and Roman society admired Jews for their ethical standards and moral lifestyle, even if the notion of kosher eluded them. In addition, he lived a Christian life on the edge; he was a missionary who faced danger and death. He was proud of the wounds he suffered for Christ. His lifelong dedication to Torah observance and his burning desire to evangelize made Paul the ideal example. He had overcome anxiety when he faced persecution; he knew what it took to live a life that was faithful, pure and virtuous. Paul had what it took to be mentor and model.

Paul’s words should resonance in us. We are to be honest in prayer, honest in lifestyle. For, when we take the title of Christian, we evangelize by our actions. Like Paul, we mentor and model Christian living for others.

What sort of example have you given this week? How can you improve your example? How has your example succeeded in bringing others closer to Christ?

SOURCE: Word-Sunday Permission for use. All materials are the property of Larry Broding (Copyright 1999-2022). Viewers may copy any material for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

27th Sunday of Year A

Intimidation, Violence, Retribution

When is the use of violence justified?

The Middle East. A hot spot in the world where state-sponsored terrorism intimidated and violated the people’s self-determination.

Will the threat and use of international retribution caused a reversal? Will refugee populations return to find their homes and their lives forever changed by the violence unleashed?

Intimidation, violence, retribution. Jesus used images of each to explain the Kingdom of God.

For the past two millennium, Christians have interpreted this parable as a allegory for salvation history. The vineyard represents Israel, the absentee owner represents God, and the tenant farmers represent the corrupt leaders of the nation. God sent prophet after prophet to his people, only to have them rejected by the elite. Finally, God sent his only Son. He, too, is beaten, thrown out of the vineyard (which now represents the city of Jerusalem), and is killed (on Golgotha). When Jesus asked for the punch line to the story, the leaders pronounce their own destruction. On the day of terrible day of Yahweh, God would savagely destroy the leaders and replace them with new ones. He would also replace the nation. The destruction of the Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the spread of the Jewish Diaspora seemed, in many minds, to confirm the truth of the parable.

Is this what Jesus had in mind when he confronted the Temple leaders with this story?

Certainly, Matthew reflected salvation history in this parable. However, the years have worn away the shock value Jesus tried to convey. The Kingdom, after all, will come in ways unexpected.

SOURCE: Word-Sunday Permission for use. All materials are the property of Larry Broding (Copyright 1999-2022). Viewers may copy any material for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

Word Sunday


Lectio Divina