I planted you as my most fair vine, but you yielded only bitterness; when I was thirsty you gave me vinegar to drink, and you pierced your Savior’s side with a lance.
I gave you the water of salvation to drink from the rock; you have given me gall and vinegar to drink. (Reproach #9)
The Prophet Isaiah vividly describes Israel as the vineyard of the Lord. God has done so much; he has done all he could for his vineyard. His complaint? He did not get the expected fruits: instead of choice wine, he got bitter vines. (See Isaiah 5:1-6). The people became complacent lovers, too sure of God’s love; they took so much for granted; they did not produce the expected fruits. What has this to do with the Passion of Christ?
We are the new Israel, the Lord’s vineyard. With the Passion of Christ, there is nothing that God could do for us that He hasn’t done. He practically gave his own life! “What more could I have done for my vineyard that I haven’t done?” is a very legitimate question. On the lips of the dying Savior the Church places this complaint against us who are lukewarm, indifferent and fickle: what more could I have done for you that I didn’t do?
Love is meant to be reciprocated; love is only love when it is shared; a loving relationship is a give and take relationship. The Lord has lavished his unconditional love on us, his vineyard, but he comes looking for fruit. When he is thirsty, he hopes we will quench his longing; It is not enough for us to be branches on the Vine; we must do our part and bring forth good fruit. It is not easy to be a Christian, for like the Vine stretched out on the wood of the Cross, we must be willing to stretch ourselves out on the Vine; we must give of ourselves.
There is no Christian without the Cross of Christ. And thus from the cross Christ says to us: You are my choicest vine; I have planted you, watered you, fenced you, nourished you; provided for all your needs. I come to you thirsty and hungry; would you quench my thirst with the best of your wine? will you feed me with the best of your fruit? You are not alone; you are part of me, and if you let me, I will make of you the best wine and the best fruit. I thirst, not for cheap wine or vinegar, but for you my best wine.