June 4, 2018
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 353

2 Peter 1:2-7
Psalms 91:1-2, 14-15B, 15C-16
Mark 12:1-12

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying in Times of Crisis

Praying As We Age

Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control,
self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion,
devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.
2 Peter

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders in parables.
"A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. ...

They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd,
for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them.
Mark 12

Jesus tells this challenging story about a man who entrusted his land to others. He tells it to the "chief priests, the scribes, and the elders." He is telling them the story about how God entrusted everything to them and they treated all the prophets badly. Now, when Jesus comes - the real Son of God - they are rejecting him, for fear he will displace them. "This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours."

Jesus really wants them to hear the challenge of the story and to experience conversion. He wants them to accept and receive him as the Son of the Father. But, the religious leaders are threatened and seek to destroy him.

It is not too much of a stretch to hear this story as addressed to us. We can ask ourselves: Do I really experience that a portion of God's kingdom has been entrusted to me? Am I using it for my own gratification and honor? Or, am I using it to return the "fruit" to God?

Each of us can reflect upon our place in creation and ask these kinds of questions. We can reflect upon our roles in relation to God's desires for what we've been asked to tend, to care for, to give life to. Too often, it is easy in our culture to see a big compartmentalized divide between "my life" and "my spiritual life." In God's eyes, we each have a vocation - a call, a mission, a purpose. We've been entrusted with so much, e.g. personal gifts given us by virtue of where we were born, the way we were raised, the education we received, the values and cultural heritage which shaped us. We have been entrusted with responsibilities, roles in our families, in our parish communities, in our cities and world. We have been blessed with relationships and loved ones who sustain us and for whom we sacrifice to give gifts of life. When we give thanks, today, for all these blessings, we can recognize that each blessing is a way God has entrusted us with a mission. Take care of this for me. Bring life here for me. Be a bridge builder here for me. Die to yourself, as I have done, in imitation of me.

Today we can realize more consciously that, to do otherwise, is to take possession of these blessings and gifts as "my own" and to use them for myself, my needs, my purposes. When we sense that, we can immediately feel the injustice of it. We can get that sense of imbalance.

This kind of reflection can be incredibly freeing. It can be re-aligning. The way I get up in the morning can be different. I can feel a sense of renewed purpose. It may take a while to let the Spirit de-selfish me. But, that's what the Spirit wants to do - loves to do. The joy that comes from that re-orientation is nothing short of renewing and consoling. I can feel more "at home" in myself - with the very reason I go to work and come home from work. It re-purposes my energies and my affections, my joys and sorrows. Nothing is "mine," when I feel this mission. I treasure the things and responsibilities and people in my life even more, because I treasure them as gifts, entrusted to me.

How can we grow in such freedom? Peter offers us sage advice about some of the means to us - the path that leads to love: virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, devotion, mutual affection, and love. The path starts with developing good habits, and learning the way. That leads to greats control of our appetites and desires. Then, we can endure hardships and grow in devotion and peace. That leads to a mutual affection and support for one another, until the capstone of the journey is love.

Lord, Jesus, thank you for this story. Thank you for reminding me of all with which you have entrusted me. Let me give you thanks today for every gift, every blessing, every responsibility and every person in my life. I will care for them with greater care. More selflessly. "Give me only your love and your grace and I will be rich enough and ask for nothing more." (Take Lord, Receive prayer of St. Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises)

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