|Father Perry D. Leiker|
God is in it for the long haul.
We estimate 3,700 years of “salvation history,” beginning with the time of Abraham to the present.
The Earth is estimated to be about 4.6 billion years old.
The Milky Way galaxy that contains the solar system was probably formed around 13.6 billion years ago.
The universe is calculated to be about 13.7 billion years old.
The beginning of civilization, dated from 160,000 to 130,000 years ago, was the beginning of the African/Oceanic Ice Age Civilization, as modern humans displaced the Neanderthals in Africa and oceanic areas.
Looking at these dates alone, one must conclude that God is in it for the long haul.
In today's readings, Isaiah speaks of a fertile vineyard producing wild grapes. God proclaims that he would “take away its hedge, give it to grazing, let it be trampled, make it a ruin, (neither let it be) pruned or hoed, (let it) be overgrown with thorns and briers, not send rain upon it.”
Israel and Judah are respectively referred to as the vineyard and the cherished plant. God would take from them the fruitfulness he had promised because they produced nothing as they lived for “bloodshed” and refused to seek “justice.”
In the Gospel, we hear another vineyard story in the parable of the vineyard and the evil tenants who leased the vineyard.
Instead of producing a yield of good grapes, they beat the servants and even killed the son, the heir of the owner of that vineyard. Even the Pharisees were able to answer Jesus’ question: “What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered correctly: “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
What they didn’t understand was that he was referring to them.
“Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
God does not destroy. God does not punish this act or that. God does not kill. God is in it for the long run. If indeed humans have existed on this planet for 160,000 years, God definitely has hung around with us, put up with a lot, loved us in spite of ourselves, and continues to grace us and gift us without conditions and without limits.
As always, the subjective variable is expressed in this question: “Are we open to and willing to produce good fruit?”
God is in it for the long run.
Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.