Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Be the Fruit

The Gospel reading for this Friday of the second week in Lent gives us Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenants, subverting the interests of the owner of the vineyard that produces their livelihood. These tenants are so evil that instead of finding ways to enhance this wonderful source of good things, they convince themselves that by eliminating the legitimate heir, they can have it all for themselves.

Yesterday’s gospel showed us that the rich man suffering the torment of Hell had no insight into how he had gotten himself into that situation; today’s points out how easily we can delude ourselves, in the moment, that our sinful behavior can somehow get us what we want.

We often reflect on the parable of the tenants in the vineyard by putting ourselves in the position of the wicked tenants, and we readily see the owner of the vineyard as God, the agents he sends as other good souls, and the son as Jesus, killed by those evil tenants. I’ve always felt like I was missing something in this parable, and as I reflected on this morning, a new insight presented itself.

What we don’t think about very much in this parable is the fruit of the vineyard and how it is used by all the other players in the story. When I considered this, I wondered where it would take me if I saw myself as the fruit of this vineyard.

Ideally, when all is right with the world God made and put us in, the fruit of the vineyard grows, ripens, is harvested, and fulfills its proper purpose – whether that purpose is in the direct service of the owner of the vineyard, or whether it is to benefit the owner by fulfilling the needs of others while generating a profit for the owner. But if someone comes along, as in the parable, and interferes with the process or with the fulfillment of these purposes, the result is subversion of the whole process. The owner of the vineyard receives neither the fruit or the profits it might have generated. The fruit also is damaged by the delays and mishandling; at minimum, it is not used at its peak of goodness but rather at the whim of the selfish, self-interested usurpers of the rightful owner’s interest.

As the fruit of God’s earthly vineyard, I want to grow, ripen, and be harvested to fulfill the purposes God has for me. That is my ideal state, and it is the process that will benefit my soul. In that process, and only in that process, I can fulfill those purposes that will benefit others to the greater glory of God. But if I allow myself to be taken in by those who care nothing for God’s purposes – or worse yet, who pretend to seek those purposes but secretly have a different agenda – then no matter how perfect I may seem, no matter what great flavor and aroma I may put into the world, I am not the fruit the Owner of the vineyard deserves to harvest.

As the fruit of God’s earthly vineyard, I need to always be where I can bask in the sunshine of His grace and soak up the dew that His Spirit forms and bathe in the Living Water. His grace, His spirit, and His salvation are the certain sources of my growth, my ripening, and my fitness to be harvested for His use. Let me never look elsewhere for what I need! Let me never be fooled by false promises and temptations! Let me remember, when I am drawn by the false promises of those evil tenants, this simple truth: God will not be outdone. His promises are greater, and He always keeps them. If I will keep my heart fixed firmly on Him, He will far outdo any of those others in the quest to ripen and harvest my soul.

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