Of Hedges and Towers and Guarding Your Vineyard


The other day I was taking part in a reflection on the Scriptures for today.  The Gospel was read through several times and we were asked to pick out a part of it that stuck out to us and meditate on what God may be trying to say to us in that word (basically Lectio Divina, right?).  Anyway, the word that hit me was a weird word, a small line tucked away and easily missed in the Lord's set up of the parable, not really even a part of the main story itself.  Everyone else spoke of the fruit and the harvest but the one that jumped out to me?  
tower
After the landowner planted his vineyard he put a hedge around it, built the wine press, planted a hedge, and built a tower.
Why in the world would a vineyard need a tower in the middle of it?

The same tower is mentioned in today's first reading, too:

"My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; 
he spaded it, cleared it of stones,
and planted the choicest vines;
within it he built a watchtower 
and hewed out a winepress."

Why a watchtower?
It hit me then that a tower was built to keep a lookout for enemies or anything that could harm the harvest.  The Scriptures mention several times that apparently a great way to get back at someone who you thought had wronged you or to overrun a competitor was to burn down their crops.  It was also a convenient way just to keep an eye on what was going on throughout the vineyard.

The Gospel today isn't directly using the vineyard as a metaphor for the heart.  Jesus is primarily referencing Israel and their rejection of him as the Christ and Heir and the vineyard is a bit more corporate than personal.  The Responsorial Psalm says this directly, in fact.  But as we know, there are many layers to the Words of God and oftentimes throughout Scripture the vineyard is referred to as a metaphor for our souls.  We also know that through the New Covenant, we are the new Israel.  We are the vines.  We are called to yield a fruitful harvest.  So I don't think it's inappropriate to wonder how that hedge and tower may apply to us personally.

It would have been easy to leave those lines out.  They're so small and easily missed.  But in both passages the hedge and tower are mentioned.  When I heard those words and reflected on them all I could think of was our need to be on guard.  That whenever the Lord is ready and wanting to yield a beautiful harvest in our souls that there will be forces, enemies if you will, opposed to that.  When God is working in our souls, clearing out the stones, tilling the ground, planting His vines, He reminds us that it is prudent to protect His work and to stay alert for those entities be it the evil one himself, other people, or even ourselves and our own darn concupiscence who will threaten the harvest.  

That is not, of course, to say that we should live in a state of fear or that we need to approach everyone and everything from a state of suspicion, peeping out from our watchtowers ready to attack all who approach.  Not at all.  Sometimes, oftentimes, in order for the vineyard to flourish He sends others to tend to it.  But it does mean that we are to have eyes that see the bigger picture.  Eyes that know - and believe - that there is a great spiritual battle and that what we see is not all there is.  Eyes and minds that value ourselves enough to know that there is a fight for our souls and that towers are built to protect what is good.  When the Lord is working, when we know He is planting and doing a great work in our vineyard, it is an honor to that work and to Him to recognize that and to not be surprised or scandalized when it is threatened.

The second reading gives us the perfect plan to balance a prudent defense and the temptation to be overly protective of our hearts (while still reminding us that they do, in fact, need to be guarded):

"Have no anxiety at all
in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

He is our defense.  When we place our trust and desires in Him, He will grant us that clarity and peace.  When we see Him doing a great work we must continually cast our cares upon Him and let His peace in the face of opposition be our defense.  Paul directly after that even gives us specific guidance on how to direct our minds so that this peace will be with us. 

I don't pretend to have all the answers nor do I do this well myself but I do know that when God is doing something beautiful in our lives or is about to, that it will often be met with opposition.  I need that reminder often.  

What is it that God is asking of you right now?  How has He been working in your soul?  Can you identify the things that have been working against that?  Be willing to draw in those who desire to tend the vineyard but don't be afraid to build that tower to protect that beautiful work He so longs to complete in you.  



{Sunday Scripture Snapshots}

4 comments

  1. Love this reflection, Mary. Beautiful.

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  2. Thank you, Mary. I needed to hear this. It's a beautiful reflection. That scripture is my favorite and has carried me through times of anxiety and fear. Thank you for reminding me.

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  3. This is beautiful, Mary, thanks! It sounds very much like the homily we heard yesterday. The priest said the vineyard can mean the body and soul of each individual and each of us is entrusted as tenants to cultivate the vine planted --from the seed of baptism. The watchtower he said is our own good reason enlightened by the truths of faith---so we need to continually educate ourselves, ongoing catechesis. The hedge??--Peace, the peace that comes through trust and prayer. He said the fruits are sweet (the fruits of the Holy Spirit) but when they are crushed (wine press) they obtain even greater value. The winepress is the ability to suffer in union with Christ, uniting our sufferings with His, giving them infinite value.............

    I just love how rich the Scriptures are! The things you have said and the homily I heard give me MUCH to reflect on and learn from and put in to practice!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing that, Linda. Your priest sounds awesome!

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