I was struck by the words that Jesus told the chief priests and elders of the people: “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.” A speaker during one of our conferences about ecumenism and interreligious dialogue said “the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is Jesus.” I was also reminded by Jesus’ declaration “I am the vine and you are the branches” (John 15:5). This train of statements is connected to the words of the Gospel. I surmise that if the Kingdom of Heaven (Jesus, the Vine) will be given to people who will produce its fruits, in order to possess ‘Jesus’, I should be a fruitful branch.
What fruits should I produce considering that the Vine is none other than Love Himself? Undoubtedly, these are works which are fruits of love and I am abashed that I am so lacking in them. I still get easily irritated and react impatiently, I still let many opportunities to be of help slip, I am still slow to sacrifice, I still seek comfort and convenience, and I even do not want to be disturbed at times. In the process of being formed to be a priest someday, it is humbling to know where I still lack.
But it is the same Jesus who said that a tree could only bear a fruit of its kind (cf. Matthew 7:17). If this is so, as a branch, to bear abundant fruits I must strive to remain close and connected to the Vine of Love. Ah! I will start the work by keeping myself attached to Jesus more and more– by being more devoted and fervent with the Holy Eucharist. I will also be ready for opportunities to love Jesus through the people around me who might need my help. It is encouraging even if I have failed a lot in the past for opportunities flourish and His grace never ceases.
By Sem. Tristan Pacheco
THE GOSPEL TODAY
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.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.