I think the answer to this question comes today from St. Paul who tells us “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious…think about these things.” This is a very explicit “yardstick” for measuring all we do and say—and how to produce good fruit for the Kingdom. What a wonderful world it would be if all of us measured our actions by this “yardstick” and then behaved accordingly! Many of us don't take time to evaluate our lives: our habits and patterns of thinking, how we act and speak, how we are motivated. This is definitely not a new problem, it is rooted in human nature. To do everything in a seemingly right way—like the vineyard steward in the Old Testament—and not have a good result, should give us pause and “food for thought” for reconciliation and results. Because it does matter what is in our hearts and minds as motive for our actions. Don’t get me wrong—it is a bit better, I think, to do good acts with poor motivation, than to do nothing at all when needed…
What’s the answer, then, if we are driven to good acts for “wrong” reasons, or our produce/result is a failure, faulty? What hope is there? Again, look to St. Paul, who tells us to not be anxious, but to live by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving. That is the place to begin. We are all on a journey to be our best and better selves; and everything takes practice. Think about these things: are our choices true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and gracious? Am I motivated in all I do and say by these good things? Pray about it—and look for God’s guidance in order to produce good fruit in yourself and for others.
You are rooted in the truth of Christ—so looking closely at what that means is what you are called to do every day and in every way. That kind of vigilance calls for focused attention, for undistracted prayer. Last week I wrote about invoking Jesus’ name to call us to our better selves; but any reminder will do. Some people wear the cross or crucifix, some wear bracelets with “What Would Jesus Do” on them. Some wear T shirts proclaiming their faith…
There was the joke about the man who wore a T shirt to bed w his PJ bottoms; when he awakes his wife says to him: “Hey, what is written on your T-shirt?” She reads aloud: “I promise not to sleep in church, especially during the sermon. I will read the Bible and say my prayers. I promise not to sing off key and to always arrive on time. I promise not to complain when the basket is passed around for the collection. I will never chew gum in church or sneak out early. Because I am the minister ... I AM the minister ... I AM THE MINISTER.”
We all need reminders to be the best selves God meant for us to be. Some wear jewelry, some wear T shirts…St. Paul tells us “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious…” Do not to be anxious, but live by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. We are the vineyards. Our lives, actions and choices must be rooted in our faith to produce that good, spiritual fruit in the world. This is our task, our calling, and our joy. Everyone who wears the name of Christ is called to a holy and spiritual life. Godliness is supposed to be the norm for us! God is honored best in the everyday and ordinary things of your life: a life rooted in love and mercy, kindness and compassion. This is the way to produce good and spiritual fruit, to be a godly vineyard for the world. Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a note: Here is another offering from the choir with which my son, Elliott (third line down—first men’s line, farthest on the right) sings: “Beati Quorum Via” by C.V. Stanford. “Blessed are those who live with integrity, who walk in the laws of the Lord.” Great musical message for today - enjoy!
Stanford Beati: https://youtu.be/4y5ShgZyDPU