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)
Living Out Our Faith in Christ
Think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
When you begin taking piano lessons, you begin by finding middle C. Then you learn how to read the notes on a page and how each note corresponds to a key on the piano. Then you learn how to look at the music and pay attention to your fingers at the same time.
But as you practice, something remarkable happens. You learn how to play by instinct. You don’t have to keep looking down at the keyboard because your fingers know where to go. You even get to the point of playing without any sheet music because you have memorized everything!
This is how St. Paul teaches us in today’s second reading. He describes a way of life that is based on faith in Christ and openness to the Holy Spirit, and he gives us a step-by-step way of living it out. He tells us, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious … think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
As a master builder, Paul’s teaching method is like the piano teacher’s. First, you set out your plan for how you will think, just as a piano student learns the keys. Then, you try your best to carry out that plan, just as a piano student practices a song over and over. And finally, as you do, virtues like purity, truthfulness, justice, and charity become your natural way of acting. You won’t need to think about them as much because practice has made them a part of who you are.
So make a plan. Every day think about how you can be more generous to your spouse or more forgiving to a co-worker. Think about how you can live a more honorable life—free from deceit, manipulation, and moodiness. Think about these things, then try your best to live them out. Jesus will bless your efforts. Eventually, you won’t have to think about them anymore. You’ll be doing them!
“Holy Spirit, teach me how to take on the character of Christ.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, the Lord reminds us of how much he has cared for his people, 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 needs to be done to bear more fruit. What areas in your life (is there at least one) 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 the psalmist prays that the Lord would restore his vineyard and give it new life. As “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19) and “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1), 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 more fully integrate prayers and petitions to God for this peace as part of your personal times of prayer?
- In the Gospel, Jesus repeats the story of the vineyard. All the readings are asking us to take very seriously the question of bearing fruit for the Lord, and not just for ourselves. What are the sacrifices the Lord may be asking you to make to be more fruitful in your life for him? What are you willing to do as a disciple of Christ to help your parish be a more productive and fruitful vineyard?
- Jesus also expands on the Gospel 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 make the Lord a greater part of your day?
- The meditation encourages us to make a plan each day to respond to the words in the second reading (Philippians 6:8-9), that is, to “think about” those things that are “true,” “honourable,” “just,” “pure,” “pleasing,” “commendable,” and anything that is of “excellence” and “worthy of praise.” Here is the suggested plan: “Every day think about how you can be more generous to your spouse or more forgiving to a co-worker. Think about how you can live a more honorable life—free from deceit, manipulation, and moodiness. Think about these things, then try your best to live them out. Jesus will bless your efforts.” What do you think will be the fruit of doing such a plan each day? Are you willing to experiment with doing this each day? If not why not?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace to take on his character. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.