St. Matthew's Episcopal Church Maple Glen, Pennsylvania

Lessons and reflections for the 18th Sunday After Pentecost, October 8, 2017

Isaiah 5:1-7
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21: 33-46

The prophet Isaiah paints the scene of a vineyard that is lovingly established by its owner.  It is clear that the vineyard is the people of Israel who were set free from captivity and established by the hand of the Lord. But the “produce” of Israel has become cries and bloodshed rather than the mercy and justice desired by the Lord. This sort of rebellious vineyard must be “undone.”

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds his opponents of the vineyard image found in Isaiah. He implies that they, like their ancestors in Isaiah’s time, have forfeited their trust as keepers of the vineyard and deserved to be replaced if they don’t change their ways.

Paul tells the Christians of Philippi of his credentials as a former “keeper of the vineyard” – and how he had to “junk” his credentials (count them as garbage to be tossed out!) that he might experience the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as his Lord, who calls him and makes Paul His own.

Comment: Have we come to the realization, trust, and faith that Christ Jesus has “made us his own”?  This means I am be a laborer with Christ in the “vineyard” where God has placed me – my home, my church, my community.  So I have to ask myself what the Lord wants me to do to honor His intentions, and consider what “fruit” I am offering to God.  It’s not a simple matter or my doing what “I” think is good and “I” think will please and honor the Lord.  I need to keep my ears and heart tuned to the words and heart of Christ, so that my labor with and for others is for Jesus, and not actually serving my own good intentions.  I find it a daily struggle to keep my focus on the Lord!