(Part 16)


October 8, 2017

Today’s readings:

Isaiah 5:1-7

Psalm 80:9-20

Philippians 4:6-9

Matthew 21:33-43

The Church is the people of God, the body of Christ, the bride of Jesus. The Church, which is the new Israel, is the vineyard planted by God Himself, as “the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, the people of Judah, his cherished plant” (Is 5:7a). As God is great, so too are His people destined for greatness.

How great was this vine? “The mountains were covered by its shadow, the cedars of God by its branches. It sent out its boughs as far as the sea, its shoots as far as the river.” (Ps 80:11-12). Israel became a great kingdom. In turn, the new Israel, the Church, was established to the ends of the earth, today claiming a third of all the peoples of the world.

God intended Israel to bear great fruit. But Israel ultimately rejected Him, killed the prophets He sent, and even killed His own Son (Mt 21:35-39). Today many members of the Church, the very body of Christ, have also rejected God. Many have turned away from Him. Even Church leaders have neglected their duties and have failed to produce good fruit.

Jesus warns his people: “I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” (Mt 21:43). God’s plan will not be thwarted. The fruit of salvation will not be denied to His people. This work of proclaiming the salvation of Jesus is entrusted to the Church and to lay communities such as ours, but that privilege will be taken away if we do not produce the desired fruit.

We must be ever mindful of what God has entrusted to us, to His people. We must think about the great work that is to be done and how we are to do it. “Finally, brothers, 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.” (Phil 4:8). All these adjectives can be summed up in one word—“great.” What is excellent is great. What is worthy of praise is great.

We, the people of God, are destined for greatness, to be a people and Church that will produce great fruit, the fruit of salvation in the lives of people. We may be ordinary and sinful and weak, but God can use those who are willing to be used, who will work according to His ways. For this great work, we are to give our all, even unto death, just like Jesus. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes” (Mt 21:42b).

Let us pray, for ourselves and for our Church. “Lord God of hosts, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved.” (Ps 80:20). And, being destined for greatness, use us to bring your salvation to the ends of the earth, bringing forth great fruit from the vine. Amen.

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