|Producing Sweet Fruit (Mt 21:33) Sunday October 5 2014|
Our Gospel reading today contains the phrase, “Let us acquire,” or “Let us seize or grab”. Wherever there is this attitude of grabbing from others, there are negative effects. We see it as ISIS “grabs” Syria and Iraq, Putin in Ukraine, Hitler in Europe and Poland. The workings of it are described regarding that same situation in Chile, in Ariel Dorfmann’s book, titled The Last Song of Manuel Sendero. There are many countries like that.
Grabbing earth’s resources is leading to climate change. Consuming too much has negative personal health effects and negative global effects.
In Mt 21:38 (//Lk 19:14) we find the Greek word ‘Sxomen’: ‘let us acquire’ for our own good, regardless of others. This is the attitude of getting my own way or profit in this moment. I do not have time now for issues like prudence, justice, or mercy. This is the attitude that has led to the current and every other preceding financial crisis on the markets.
Some of our “teeth are set on edge” by sour grapes in relationships in our own homes. We realize that we are too often self centered and too seldom other centered. So we taste “sour grapes”:
- A valuable worker who suddenly resigns
- A spouse who cannot continue in relationship with us
- A child who refuses to come home
- A friendship that ends
- Or a parishioner that leaves the congregation
When in this moment we trample these children of God, we trample the image of God: we cast the son of God and the kingdom of God out, and we attack the son of God, and the realm of God.
On the other hand, in the epistle reading (Phil 3:4b-14) St. Paul turns away from all his elite privileges “for the sake of following Christ”. He was describing his own change of attitude, which produced sweet fruit for all of us.
One revered example of this change of attitude was St Francis, who found joy in loving God; and whose gratitude paved the way to simple living. Another example was Abraham Lincoln. Yet another was some special measures that the Corning Glass Corporation took to open up the path for women and black Americans to reach the highest echelons of the company.
I saw that same change of attitude in the life of a dear friend, Bishop David Russell, whose obituary was titled, “A life of service”. Each of these sought to serve God and others, and sought the sweet fruit of justice and equity. This attitude deepens relationship, joy and tranquility. How is our parish doing this? How are we ourselves doing this?
With St. Paul, let us no longer seize at things and attention, but turn away from them “for the sake of following Christ”. Let our change of attitude with our family, coworkers and neighbors, and produce fruit which God and others find sweet.