By Deacon Ken and Marie Finn
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.
“THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ ISAIAH 5:1-7 FIRST READING
(“What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done?”)
- For whom and for what shall we sing in Isaiah 5:1?
- What does my friend have, and what kind of a hillside is it on? Isaiah 5:1
- What did he do with it, what did he build within it, and what did he hew out? Isaiah 5:2
- Who are the true vine and the vine grower? John 15:1
- When he looked for the crop of grapes, what had it yielded? Isaiah 5:2
- Between what two things must the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the people of Judah judge? Isaiah 5:3-4
- How did the vine turn out to the Lord? Jeremiah 2:21
- What did he mean to do with his vineyard? Isaiah 5:5-6
- Who is the vineyard of the Lord of hosts, and who are the cherished plants? Isaiah 5:7
- The Lord looked for judgment and justice, but what did he see and hear? Isaiah 5:7
Personal – List some of the things the Lord has done for you in cultivating and preparing your soil. What kinds of fruit are you bearing?
THIRD DAY READ PHILIPPIANS 4:6-9 SECOND READING
(“Dismiss all anxiety from your minds.”)
- What are we not to have at all, and in everything, how are we to make our requests known to God? Philippians 4:6
- What does anxiety do to a person’s heart? Proverbs 12:25
- What are we to do with all our worries? 1 Peter 5:7
- How often and for whom are we to pray? Ephesians 6:18, 1 Timothy 2:1
- What does the peace of God surpass, and what will it do to our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus? Philippians 4:7
- When Jesus left to go to the Father, what did he tell his followers he would leave with them? John 15:26
- What keeps a nation in peace? Isaiah 26:3
- About what eight things are we to think? Philippians 4:8
- About what are we to seek and think? Colossians 3:1-2
- What does Paul tell the Philippians to keep on doing, and who will be with them? Philippians 4:9
Personal – Evaluate your thinking for the last 24 hours. What did you think about the eight ways to find peace taken from Philippians 4:8?
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 21:33-43 GOSPEL
(“The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.”)
- What did the property owner do to the vineyard he planted, and to whom did he lease it? Matthew 21:33
- What did the property owner do at vintage time, and how did the tenants respond? Matthew 21:34-35
- What did the property owner do a second time, and how were the slaves treated? Matthew 21:36
- Whom did he finally send, and how did he feel they would treat him? Matthew 21:37
- What did the tenants say when they saw the vineyard owner’s son? Matthew 21:38
- Whom has God made heir of all things? Hebrews 1:1-2
- How have we become heirs in hope of eternal life? Titus 3:4-7
- What did the tenants do to the son? Matthew 21:39
- What was the question Jesus asked in Matthew 21:40, and what was their reply? Matthew 21:41
- From what did Jesus ask if they read? Who is the stone which the builders rejected, and what has he become? Matthew 21:42, Acts 4:10-11
- Who made this stone the cornerstone, and how do we find it? Matthew 21:42
- For this reason, what will happen to the kingdom of God? Matthew 21:43
Personal – In what way has Jesus become the keystone in your life? He is either an obstacle or the keystone for you to succeed in this life and the next. Read 1 Peter 2:4-8 and repent of the times you have rejected the Lord.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 80:9, 12-16, 19-20
(“A vine from Egypt you transplanted;”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 80:9, 12-16, 19-20.
What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?
How can you apply this to your life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
Today’s passage tells us that God’s chosen nation was to “bear fruit,” to carry out his work, and to uphold justice. It did bear fruit, but the fruit was sour and wild. We see in Scripture that the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit it produced (Matt. 7:20). This was a powerful story about God’s people and how he prepared everything for their benefit, and how they were very careless in taking care of what God had given to them.
Today, we need to take a look at our own vineyard. Jesus’ blood prepared our soil. His death gave us the right of becoming an heir to the vineyard. How have we spaded our vineyard? How have we taken out the rocks and weeds in our life?
Lately, have you checked the fruit that is growing on your vine? Is it being deprived of spiritual nourishment by being in the shadow and coldness of sin? Do you give your vineyard plenty of sunlight through Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments and church fellowship? You may want to check the fruit in your vineyard and make the necessary corrections.
The vine is Jesus and we are the branches. We cannot do anything without the vine (John 15:1). We are in the full protection of the vineyard owner when we are giving praise and glory to his Son, Jesus. People will judge us on the kind of fruit that we bear. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and self-control.
Since we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and live by the Spirit, let us follow in the Spirit’s lead (Gal. 5:22, 23, 25). Let our grapes never become sour or wild. Let us not ever be boastful or challenging or jealous toward one another.
In today’s reading we are encouraged to worry about nothing. Imagine never having to worry about anything! It seems like an impossibility. We all have worries on the job, in our homes, or at school, but today, Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers. Scripture tells us that anxiety depresses a person’s heart (Prov. 12:25). We only are required to look around in our society and see how much competition and anxiety there is in the area of work.
We are told in Scripture to cast all of our cares on to the Lord, because he cares about us (1 Peter 5:7). We keep our eyes on what is so temporary, instead of on what is eternal (Col 3:1-2). We are called to become pray-ers and the light of the world will drive away the anxiety and darkness (John 8:12).
We must never forget that God’s peace is different from the world’s peace (John 14:27). We do not find his peace in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or even in good feelings. Real peace can come only when we know that God is in control. When we seek his kingship first, all else will fall into place, and we will experience his peace (Matt. 6:33). His peace is our destiny, and because of his peace we know that victory over sin in our lives is indisputable.
You can receive his peace at this moment if you will renew in faith your commitment to him. Let him come into you right now and feed your hungry and unstable heart (Rev. 3:20). He promised that he would never leave us orphans and that he will never leave us. His peace surpasses all understanding because it is a peace of love.
You might be asking, “How do I achieve that peace?” What we bring into our minds determines what comes out by our words and actions. Paul tells us to fill our minds with thoughts that are true, good and right. If you are having impure thoughts and daydreams, then examine what you are bringing into your mind because of television, movies, books and magazines. You need to read, study and put into action God’s Holy Word every day. Ask the Lord Jesus Christ to help you right now to free you of the “stinking thinking” and help focus your mind on what is proper and pure. Remember, try to fill your mind with thoughts of the Lord that are pure and true and see your anxiety disappear. You will have peace that surpasses all understanding.
In this parable Jesus is showing the chief priests and the elders the incredible patience and mercy of God. To his chosen people God has given a fertile and productive vineyard for their homeland. He did all of this to prepare them for the future Messiah. All he asked of them was their cooperation. But, as we see in this story, they had other plans. They wanted their kingdom on earth and they wanted it now. Does this sound familiar?
God was extremely patient with his people. He sent them many prophets to bring them into a state of repentance, and they abused them, ignored their warnings, and even killed a few of them. God finally sent his only begotten Son to earth in human form. His Son lived among them and preached a message of love and peace. He offered them his Father’s mercy and pardon. Instead of accepting his offer, they committed an even greater sin. They killed the Son of God by crucifying him on the cross as a criminal.
The people’s plan backfired because Jesus’ death brought life to the world and opened up the gates of God’s eternal home for all nations and races. He was trying to get them to see that they were like the people in the story, when he asked them if they had ever read the Scriptures. Jesus told them this so that they could repent even as he was telling them. They did not see themselves as the greedy tenants or the murderers of the prophets. They blinded themselves to God’s justice. (God’s justice is that he hates sin, and whatever happened to the chief priests and elders will happen to unfaithful Christians.)
Jesus has set up a new vineyard and we have been called to work in it. Are we working honestly and devotedly? Is our life producing good fruit so that it will feed others? Jesus gives us that chance to repent and to let his grace come into our lives and become faithful tenants.
We can say thank you to our heavenly Father and ask him to help us, through his Holy Spirit, to keep us on the right path. Jesus wants us to repent. He wants us to change and to enjoy his vineyard. He wants us to make the vineyard enjoyable for others. We can still put ourselves right with God. Let’s do it now; tomorrow may be too late.
This week’s first reading reveals that a tree or a person is judged by the fruit it produced. The second reading shows that peace comes from filling our mind with thoughts that are pure, good and true. The Gospel shows how God is merciful and patient, and to ignore God is to lose our soul for eternity.
This week, show others that the fruit you are bearing is good fruit, by being especially kind and supportive to someone who is very unkind or non-supportive to you. Do not let this person know your intentions.
Also, this week, try to be a righteous example to someone in your family, school, or at work, by inviting them to read with you a passage from Scripture that is good, pure, and wholesome.
Finally, show someone your Bible Study and tell them what virtue it is bringing into your life. You may very well be an instrument of the Lord that will help them dismiss some anxiety and help them find the peace that surpasses all understanding.