for Sunday, October 5, 2014
Jesus has really strong words today in the Gospel from Saint Matthew. We can think that these words are directed to others, but we should also realize that the Gospel is always written for me personally and directed to me personally. The things that we find in the Scriptures are both general and sometimes historical, but always written for my personal conversion and daily struggle to be faithful.
Each one of us is the vineyard of the Lord. It is we ourselves who keep the Lord out and do not allow Him to transform us. We find so many excuses to keep our lives for ourselves and not to seek God?s will in our lives. How often we find excuses to avoid the demands of the Gospel! How often we find ways to make our lives easier and to avoid the Cross of the Lord.
This truth about ourselves should not discourage us. All we ever need to do is see the truth about ourselves and ask God to pardon us and heal us - and God is there for us.
The first reading today from the Prophet Isaiah tells us the background of this story of the vineyard. This is the same in every age of history. We should not think that because we have seen the Lord, that we are different. We may know God?s love for us in Christ Jesus, but we still find ourselves as sinners.
When we hear the second reading, from the Letter to the Philippians, we can find some comfort: Have no anxiety at all, but 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.
This is our spiritual life: the following of Jesus. As we follow Jesus, we find that we betray Him. Yet we know His forgiveness. Never should we think that our Christian life is simply a life of suffering and of sin. Rather, we live lives that are redeemed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Scriptures help us understand how sin can be at work in us and yet God's power of salvation is stronger than sin. While we need never fear sin because Jesus has destroyed death, we can come to respect the power of sin in our lives and seek to let the power of Jesus conquer all within us that still clings to death and to the pleasures of this world.
The challenge is at the end of the Gospel: bear the fruit of holiness! That means that if we strive to remain in Christ and to renounce our sin, the fruits of the Holy Spirit can finally be seen in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Let us strive for holiness even as we recognize our predisposition to sin. May the Lord Jesus Christ strengthen the Holy Spirit within us to the glory of the Father.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 5.1-7
Second Reading: Philippians 4.6-9
Gospel: Matthew 21.33-43
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: