Preparing for Sunday
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
REFLECT: The Parable of the Wicked Tenants is neither Jesus’ first nor his last confrontation with the Pharisees.Jesus is unwilling to give up on the Pharisees, or anyone else for that matter. That is the good news, hope, and joy in this parable. He is not condemning us but recovering us from the places of our self-exclusion, to call us back to life, and to lead us home.
Jesus doesn’t exclude us or anyone else from the kingdom of God. He doesn’t have to. We do it to ourselves. The Pharisees were given the vineyard and failed to produce and share the fruits of the kingdom - love, mercy and forgiveness, justice, generosity, compassion, presence, wisdom, truth, healing, reconciliation, self-surrender, joy, thanksgiving, peace, obedience, humility.
To the degree we are not producing kingdom fruits we have excluded ourselves from and rejected our share in the kingdom – a.k.a. self-exclusion.
• Do you ever struggle with perfectionism, self-condemnation, and the question of whether you’re enough? Maybe that’s self-exclusion.
• Do you ever feel like you have to be in control, be right, have all the answers? Maybe that’s self-exclusion.
• Are you carrying grudges, anger, resentment? Maybe that’s self-exclusion.
• Do you look at others and begin making judgments about their belief, choices, or lifestyle? Maybe that’s self-exclusion.
• Are there people in your life that you have chosen to let go of rather than do the work of reconciliation and heal the relationship? Maybe that’s self-exclusion.
• Do you go through life on auto-pilot, going through the motions but never really being present, never showing up? Maybe that’s self-exclusion.
• In your life is there more criticism and cynicism than thanksgiving and celebration? Maybe that’s self-exclusion.
• Are you hanging onto some old guilt that you believe could not be forgiven? Maybe that’s self-exclusion.
The antidote to our self-exclusion from God’s kingdom begins with first recognizing that self-exclusion. That means we must look at the vineyards of our lives. So, how’s your garden growing? What do you see? Is there fruit? Is there life? Are you sharing in God’s kingdom?
PRAY: Dear God, as we look at the vineyards of our lives, help us to recognize the ways that we exclude ourselves from producing your kingdom’s fruits. Let us not block love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, joy, wisdom, thanksgiving, and peace. Open our eyes, hearts, and minds to all that is good so all vineyards may flourish.