VINEYARD OF THE LORD
In the parable of the Tenants that Jesus taught, he said, “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey” (Mt 21:33).
According to Isaiah 5:7, “The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in.” So, God is the landowner and Israel is the vineyard. Like a good landowner, God provided everything needed for the protection and development of Israel. In Isaiah 5:1b-2, we read, “My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.” Jesus presented God like a human who took special care of his vineyard. Though God owned all humanity, his favorite land was his vineyard, Israel.
HEDGE, TOWER, AND WINE PRESS
For the real vineyards, there were hedges made of stones to protect them from intrusions of wild animals and thieves. Hedge in the parable represents everything that God provided to separate Israelites from the rest of the nations. Natural defenses like deserts, seas, rivers, and mountains protected the Holy Land. God also provided Israelites strict laws and made a covenant with them to separate them from people who worshiped false gods.
The vineyard owners built towers in the vineyards for observation and defense against the attacks of robbers. Jerusalem was on a mountain with God’s representatives watching over them to protect their covenantal relationship with God.
Wine press was to squeeze the grapes for making wine. The wine press of Israel was the tabernacle and later the Temple of Jerusalem, and wine was the divine worship and charity that flowed from the Temple and the worshippers.
Like that of the Old Testament period, the Christians are the vineyard of Jesus. God protects us from the evil through the service of the church and nourishes us with the sacraments. However, we have to produce fruits of our Christian living. As the laborers of God, we have to serve others responsibly and are accountable to our Master.