God has gifted me the privilege of seeing hillsides of vineyards in Colorado, Washington, California, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. One thing they all have in common, for me, is a particular beauty that radiates peace. I don’t know if I can articulate it but the row upon row of vines, perfectly straight and even, separated by pathways used for tending and harvesting the crop, exudes a peaceful beauty that speaks to my heart and soul. I can see the love and care that goes into those vineyards, a vague metaphor for the love and care God gives us as described in today’s readings. I can also visualize the joy, laughter, comradery, and the family togetherness that the grapes will one day feed. Maybe it’s that the sun always seems to shine on the vineyards, at least when I’ve seen them. Maybe it’s that underneath all the peace and tranquility that pleases the eye there is a sense of vibrancy penetrating the hillside scene which itself is beyond description and understanding. Maybe it’s knowing that the Eucharistic feast is connected to this peaceful setting.
The vineyards described in today’s first reading and the Gospel are metaphors for two things. First, they describe God’s persistent and loving care for us—Love far beyond our understanding and a persistence that is without limits.
The second aspect of the metaphor is us. We are the grapes; we are the vineyards; we are the caretakers. How we care for ourselves is our response to God’s persistent Love for us. Here is where St. Paul’s words come into play. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Vineyards have no anxiety. Metaphorically, they entrust their needs for water and sun to God’s tender and constant care, returning their produce as an offering of thanksgiving to Him.
Paul urges us to think about whatever is true, honorable, lovely, gracious, as well as things that are excellent, anything worthy of praise. In other words, we are to be like vineyards, constantly having our hearts and minds turned trustingly upward to receive all the good that comes from Our Father.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.