Category Archives: God’s Will

Are We Good Tenants?

“A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and then went on a journey for a long time.” (Luke 20:9)

Jesus had just entered Jerusalem in a triumphal way. He had cleared the temple of the moneychangers and was teaching in the temple courts. A few days earlier, he had raised Lazarus from the dead. The chief priests and elders were challenging Jesus and asking by what authority he was doing all of these things. Jesus responds with the parable of the tenants (Luke 20:9-19), which may be viewed as follows:

A man planted a vineyard – God created all that exists.

The man rented the vineyard to some tenant farmers – God entrusts creation to us and gives us dominion over it with the specific instruction “to cultivate and take care of it.” (Gen. 2:15)

At harvest time he sent his servants and subsequently his son to collect some of the fruit, but the tenants beat the servants and killed the son, claiming the vineyard for themselves. Just as the tenants attempted to claim ownership of the vineyard, so has the human race attempted to claim ownership of creation, denying the creator and determining for itself what is right and wrong, true or false.

The response of the vineyard owner was harsh. He killed the tenants and gave the vineyard to others. The chief priests and elders realized Jesus was talking about them.

What kind of tenants are we of the responsibilities God has entrusted to us? He gives each of us a lease of time in this physical world with varying durations. He entrusts us with various talents. He puts people in our lives. He has a job or work that is to be our contribution to taking care of his creation. He expects some fruit to come from his lease to us. For me and many of us, any review of our lives will likely produce a mixed report with both positive and negative fruit.

Recently I was rereading a book of letters our adult children had put together from family and friends to celebrate a particular birthday of mine a few years ago. In the letters from the children were various memories of when I spent time with them while they were young, playing a game, taking a hike, building something, making a trail through the woods or sharing some advice which they had requested of me. Most of these moments I had forgotten, but they had not. While I may not have realized it then, these times given to me by God in my lease from him were bearing fruit, and may have contributed in some small way to where our children are today, all Christian adults with families of their own and bearing fruit in their turn.

Time, spouse, children, work, friends, ministry and faith — all are part of the lease God gives to each of us. All are precious seeds waiting to bear fruit for the Lord under our tenancy.

Reflect on what kind of tenant you have been of God’s lease to you. Are there any changes you would like to make going forward?

Doing the Father’s Will

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 7:21)

How do we know if we are doing the Father’s will?  There are several cross referenced scriptures to these words of Jesus that may provide clarification.

The Apostle John says, “Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)  Declarations of love are fine, but unless they are supported by actions, they ring hollow and fade.

James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”   It doesn’t do us any good to read or listen to the Word of God and then not do what it says.  James says it is like looking at yourself in the mirror and then immediately forgetting what you look like.  (James 1:22-25)

When we think about fulfilling God’s will, we often think of the big decisions in life such as where will I go to college.  What should be my major?  Should I consider a religious vocation?  Should I marry?  What kind of job should I seek?  Where should I live?  How many children does God want us to have?

However, the small, everyday decisions are often just as important in fulfilling God’s will because they tend to set the pattern or habit that determines whether we fulfill God’s will with the larger decisions.

This past week, I encountered one of those small decisions.

As a Eucharistic minister for my church, I take communion to residents at a local nursing home once or more a month.  Our usual practice is to have a group service for those who are ambulatory, and then go to individual rooms for those who are not and to the third floor where the Alzheimer residents reside.

I was informed by the social director that one of the Alzheimer residents was indisposed and that left only one other person, whom I will call Shirley, who is usually sleeping and most of the time doesn’t receive communion.

My first reaction was to skip the third floor and return home, but then I thought maybe I should check to see if Shirley was awake.  It turns out that she was in the third floor dining room just finishing her breakfast.  I went to her table and asked if she wanted to receive communion.  She did not respond.  I knelt down on one knee by her chair, put my hand on her hand and asked if she wanted to say the Lord’s Prayer.  She nodded yes, and we slowly recited the Lord’s Prayer together.

I again asked her if she wanted to receive communion, and she said, “I want to be a good girl.”  I said, “Shirley, you are indeed a good girl and God loves you very much.”  She then received communion.  The next thing I knew she was grabbing my hand and kissing it.  I was a bit embarrassed as I withdrew my hand, but realized that in her uninhibited way, she was responding to God’s love.  I was just standing in as his agent.

It was a small decision to go to the third floor, but both Shirley and I were the beneficiaries.