Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 5 Sunday


(A biblical reflection on the 27th ORDINARY SUNDAY, 5 October 2014)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 21:33-43
First Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalms: Psalm 80:9,12-16,19-20; Second Reading: Philippians 4:6-9
The Scripture Text
“Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to Him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.” (Matthew 21:33-43 RSV)

Adapting the image of a vineyard that the prophet Isaiah used (Isaiah 5:1-7), Jesus aimed a parable directly at the religious leaders who had been hounding Him since the start of His ministry. Jesus made it clear that these enemies of His were guiding God’s people (“the vineyard”) for their own benefit rather than leading them to God (the “householder”). He told them that as a consequence, the people were not bearing the kind of fruit they were created to bear. And what’s worse, these leaders were closing the people off from God’s Son, Jesus.
We might use this biblical image of the vineyard to reflect on the way that misguided attitudes can take possession of our minds and hinder our ability to bring forth the fruit of love, justice, and mercy that our Father is looking for from us. The landowner’s expectations of a fruitful harvest were dashed because his vineyard was occupied by hostile tenants. Similarly, if we give room to “hostile tenants” like selfishness, anxiety, or resentment, we’ll find it harder to maintain the freedom and light hearts that should be the hallmark of the children of God.
Have we
 (you and I) perhaps picked up some of the moral relativism or sexual permissiveness that are rife in our “modern” culture? Has the barrage of daily, nonstop news made us feel hopeless or even numb to the suffering in the world? No wonder it can feel next to impossible to hold on to our faith!
The good news is that God has spared no expense to free us from these negative influences. Every day, Jesus wants to expel these usurpers from our minds and establish His Kingdom within us. But He won’t do it alone. He calls us to place our faith in His victory over sin and death. He calls us to trust in Him and obey His commandments. Surrendering ourselves to Jesus is not an unhealthy loss of control but a regaining of control. Why? Because as God’s love permeates our lives, our minds are filled with all that is true, honorable, upright and pure, good and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). And when our minds are filled with God’s goodness, we will bear loads of fruit for His Kingdom.
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, I yield to You and ask You to drive out all that is opposed to Your Kingdom. I want to bear the fruit for which You have made me. Amen.
Jakarta, 3 October 2014

A Christian Pilgrim

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