In the Austin Powers movies, a character named Basil Exposition shows up whenever background or context (known as basal exposition) is needed. Sunday’s vineyard-centered readings (three of the four readings are full of vineyard stuff) could use a little background.
First, grapes are picky about where they grow, you have to find the right ground (hillsides work best) for your vineyard and prepare it well. Next, you can’t plant vines and pick grapes later that year (grapes take 3-5 years). And when you finally do get grapes, you have to protect your crop (with walls, hedges, watchtowers, etc.), since everybody (and everything) likes grapes.
Okay, so that’s how it works, but what’s the point of all of the vineyard stuff?
It’s the context for the Old Testament, the Psalm, and the Gospel. Take away the vineyard imagery, and it becomes clearer. The context is a business that requires a significant financial investment, plus a lot of physical labor, takes years before it turns a profit, and produces something so valuable that it has to be protected from thieves.
Keep a picture of that business in mind as we take up the Old Testament reading tomorrow.
Sunday’s Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100514.cfm