A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
Good News Reflection:
“The kingdom of God is given to those who produce its fruit.” That’s the moral of the story that Jesus gives us in this Sunday’s Gospel reading. And what is this kingdom of God, given to us while we’re still on earth? What are its fruits, which we produce during our earthly lives?
Anything we do in imitation of Christ is a fruit that has grown as a result of following Christ on our journey toward heaven. If we love as he loves, forgive as he forgives, minister to others, teach the truth, and heal the hurting, we are living in the kingdom of God now.
When I ask Catholics if they believe they’re going to heaven, most feel very uncertain, either because they’re afraid they might lose their salvation through some future grave sin, or because they’re afraid it’s not humble enough to answer with a firm “yes.”
Granted, we do not imitate Christ perfectly. Most of us will need to spend time in Purgatory being purged of whatever is unheavenly about us, but when the purging is finished, we’ll be fully alive in the wonderfulness of God. If we make it to Purgatory, of course we’ll reach the glories of heaven. And if our desire to be Christ-like is genuine, then of course our sins will never be so “grave” that we turn completely away from Christ. Of course we’ll gladly embrace him when he comes for us at the moment of our death.
Whatever you do because of Christ and out of love for Christ, this is evidence that you are living in and will eternally live in God’s kingdom.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
What good fruits are you producing in your life now? List them; get out a pen and start writing them down. During the week, as you think of more good fruits, add those to the list.
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Look at the list you produced for the above question. How do these fruits give evidence of God’s goodness within you? How do they provide the kingdom of God for the benefit of others? How do they assure you that you are truly a heaven-bound follower of Christ?
Beloved Lord: Forgive me, because I’ve tried to judge Your wise and holy decisions using my own criteria. Root Your justice in the depths of my heart and mind to help me be the servant of Your vineyard that You want me to be. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica