Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:9,12-16,19-20; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43)
Overcoming Our Anxieties by Receiving God’s Peace
Have no anxiety at all. (Philippians 4:6)
Is Paul serious? How can any of us live an anxiety-free life? Doesn’t he know how hard life can get? Yes, he does! He even talks about his own anxieties and how his concern for the different churches weighed on him (2 Corinthians 11:28). So why does he tell the Philippians not to be anxious? Because he knows how powerful a force worry can be, and he wants to give them some advice in dealing with it—advice that we can all take to heart.
First, Paul tells us to pray, and then he promises that “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Go ahead and bring your needs to the Lord. Feel free to lay them at his feet, and do your best to leave them there. If you do, you’ll find a new peace that you didn’t know before. You have brought your needs to the best place possible, and you can be assured that your heavenly Father will help you. He may not solve every problem right away, but he will give you his strength and clarity to help you keep working through them.
But Paul doesn’t stop there. He also tells us to fix our minds on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious” (Philippians 4:8). If we do, then “the God of peace” will be with us (4:9). Our anxieties will gradually diminish as we gain a bigger, broader perspective on our lives. We will see our lives in the light of a loving Father and an ever present Holy Spirit. And that will give us great confidence whenever anxiety rears its head.
Don’t let anxiety get the better of you today! Remember that God is on your side. Your heavenly Father cares for you. His hand is stretched out to you even now, welcoming you and inviting you to lay your cares at his feet. So come to him, and let his Spirit help you guard your heart and mind today.
“Father, I surrender my anxieties to you today. Your love is unfailing, so I put my hope in you. Holy Spirit, fill my heart and mind with peace.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In today’s first reading, the Lord reminds us of how much he has cared for us, and how he longs for us to bear fruit in our lives. The Lord also invites us to “judge” the fruits of our life and determine what areas need to bear more fruit. What areas (is there one) in your life do you believe the Lord wants you to focus on to bear more fruit? How will you do this?
- The responsorial psalm continues the metaphor of the vineyard and the vine and prays that the Lord would restore his vineyard and give it new life. As “temples of the Holy Spirit” and “living sacrifices,” perhaps, the Lord is inviting us to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to continue this restoration process? How important is this wonderful sacrament of God’s forgiveness and mercy in your life?
- After having been asked to consider our lives and its fruit, the second reading reminds us that the grace and power to bear more fruit comes from God. The reading begins by telling us not to be anxious and that, if we pray and petition the Lord, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. What are the areas in life where you long for more of God’s peace? How can you integrate these prayers and petitions to God for this peace more fully into your personal times of prayer?
- In the Gospel, Jesus repeats the story of the vineyard. All these readings are asking us to take very seriously the question of being fruitful. Being fruitful will require us to make sacrifices in our lives. What are the sacrifices you are willing to make to be more fruitful in your life?
- Jesus also expands on the story by telling us just how far the landowner (God) will go to help the vines produce: he even sends his own son to die! How often during an average day do you turn to the Lord to reflect on his great love and mercy, and what he has done so that you could have eternal life with him? How often should you? What are the obstacles that keep you from doing this? What steps can you take to allow the Lord to have a greater part in your day?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “Paul tells us to pray, and then he promises that “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).” Why is prayer a way to replace anxieties in our lives with the “peace of God”? Can you give an example from your own life?
- Take some time now to pray that God the Father would give you the grace to surrender your anxieties to his will and his great love for you, so that you can experience the “peace of God”. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.