2 Peter 1:2-7
Ps 91:1-2, 14-16
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.
Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes,
and the elders in parables.
“A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey.
At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants
to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard.
But they seized him, beat him,
and sent him away empty-handed.
Again he sent them another servant.
And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully.
He sent yet another whom they killed.
So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed.
He had one other to send, a beloved son.
He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
So they seized him and killed him,
and threw him out of the vineyard.
What then will the owner of the vineyard do?
He will come, put the tenants to death,
and give the vineyard to others.
Have you not read this Scripture passage:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?”
They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd,
for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them.
So they left him and went away.
Good News Reflection: The 7 steps to heaven
Today’s first reading gives us a description of the road to heaven. In this, we can see seven steps that move us forward on the journey of holiness.
1. The first step we make is faith: We decide to believe in Christ and in his saving death and resurrection, not as an intellectual belief, but as the center of our lives.
2. Faith moves us forward into virtue, because it gives us trust in Christ’s teachings. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (para.1804) defines virtue as “firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith.” When we have faith in God, we desire to increase our goodness, because it pleases him and draws us nearer to him.
3. Virtue moves us into discernment. If we prefer to keep one foot on the path to heaven and one foot in the world, we don’t spend enough time discerning what is holy and what’s not. But if we truly want to draw nearer to God, the differences between good and evil become obvious. The Holy Spirit actively gives us wisdom and guidance.
4. Discernment advances us into self-control. Signs that we do not have self-control are: frequently losing our temper; being continually fearful; jumping to conclusions; procrastination; schedules that are so busy they wear us out and leave us little time for spiritual matters and healthy relationships; letting others control our moods by their hurtfulness or demands or disapproval, and addictions of any sort. If we truly want more unity with God, we naturally want to gain control over these behaviors, and so we work hard to achieve this.
5. Self-control moves us into piety (holiness). By taking control of our knee-jerk reactions to the temptations and frustrations of daily life, we get down on our knees in humble discernment and become free to act as Jesus would; the Holy Spirit empowers us to succeed.
6. Piety moves us into caring about others. By choosing to follow Christ’s example and his teachings, we unite ourselves to his perfect love. Without this, we’re driven into selfishness in order to fill in the gaps where love has been missing. With it, we find the right balance between letting Jesus meet our needs and letting Jesus meet the needs of others through us.
7. Caring for others moves us into perfect (100%) love. We become Jesus’ hands and feet and warm embrace through ministry to others. We are now so well united to God who is Love that we gladly make sacrifices, like Jesus and with Jesus. There is no greater love than to lay down our lives to bring to others the saving love of Christ and thus help them take their own steps forward in faith.
Lord: May I choose You every day so You can work in my life according to the awesome plans of our heavenly Father. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica