Some background to today’s First Reading, Isaiah 5:1-7, is that the nation of Israel is likened to a vineyard which the Lord has planted. The poem is a love song about the vineyard, but the song does not end as we expect. Instead, it ends with harsh words of judgment, proclaiming why the Lord is going to destroy His vineyard: the people did not bear the fruit of the vineyard. As children of God through Christ, let us bear the good fruit of faith and reach out in loving service to others.
Lord Jesus, You fulfilled all righteousness, bearing the fruit the people of God were to bear. Forgive us when we fail to fulfill the commands of God. Let Your Holy Spirit work in our hearts and lives to bear the fruit of Your love and mercy so that others are drawn to You. Amen.
The Psalm for today, 80:7-19, gives some background to today’s First Reading; the vine is the people of Israel, whom the Lord has rescued from the land of Egypt. The Psalm begins by proclaiming God’s blessings concerning the vine, then it moves to the current state of the vine – it is being destroyed by enemies. But notice that it ends with hope that God will restore it through a special son of David; we know the special Son of David is Jesus, and He has restored and rescued us. Let us give thanks to God!
Holy Father, protect Your vine, the Church, from the ravages of sin and persecution. Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Son Whom You have made strong for Yourself to redeem Your people. Amen.
How are we saved, by good works or by faith? Notice that in today’s Second Reading, Philippians 3:4b-14, the apostle Paul answers this question in the clearest of terms, we are saved by grace through faith, not by good works. Notice also that Paul does not rest on his past faith, he continues to strive to grow in faith to receive the goal of heaven. Let us also continue to strive to grow in faith by the grace of God.
Holy Spirit, increase in us the gift of faith. Keep us steadfast in Jesus, growing in Him as we grow in discipleship. Amen.
Today’s Gospel is set in the context of Jesus’ enemies continuing to ratchet up the pressure on Jesus, leading to the betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. In today’s Gospel, Matthew 21:33-46, Jesus knows what will be ahead for Him, but instead of running and hiding, He tells a parable that the kingdom of God (the vineyard) will be taken away from those who were to be its stewards and caretakers, and given to people who will bear the fruit of the vineyard. Let us so follow Jesus every day that we bear the fruit of righteousness to His glory by loving Him with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Lord God, Master of the vineyard: Your Church; increase the work of Your Holy Spirit in our lives so that we produce the fruit of the vineyard, and by so doing giving You honor and glory and being a blessing to all around us. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.