Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Lives of Good Fruit: A Reflection on the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wally and I were invited to share a reflection on the readings for Mass this Sunday, October 4, 2020, at From His Heart, our parish blog.

Do the everyday moments of my life create good fruit? And what does the Bible even mean comparing people to produce

Good fruit is described as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" in Galatians 5. How can I produce that kind of fruit in my life? 

We see that God works first, preparing the land, planting good vines, anticipating a good crop, in this Sunday's Old Testament reading:

"...he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press." (Isaiah 5)

And so, every life is an opportunity to produce something good. In the Responsorial Psalm, we picture ourselves as a vine, recognize our frailty, and ask the Lord's protection and restoration: 

"O LORD of hosts, look down from heaven, and see, take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted… give us new life… restore us." (Psalms 80)

Jesus tells the parable of abusive caretakers in this Sunday's Gospel. They lease a vineyard while the owner is away on a journey, but rather than receive their due harvest and offer the rest to the One who prepared and planted the vineyard in the first place, the temporary tenants become proud, presumptuous, and greedy. They kill anyone who threatens their power ‒ even the vineyard owner's son. 

When I think of my own life's vineyard, the people and responsibilities entrusted to me, am I humble enough to realize that I'm caring for what is not my own? That someday, I will need to make an accounting to God for how I treat others and for the fruit I produce? 

Thankfully, we read in this Sunday's New Testament scriptures a guaranteed way to produce good fruit: 

"...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4

St. Paul doesn't just promise us good fruit and peace of heart when we meditate on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, or praise-worthy. St. Paul promises us the God of peace, God's very presence with us in our daily work to produce good fruit.

In my current circumstances, where do I need God's peace?

Lord, help me to see the opportunities you give me to produce good fruit today. God of peace, be with me.

*For this Sunday's Mass readings, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, click here.

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