To whom do you give credit for the fruit of your labor?

| Deacon Gerald Christianson | September 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

An old gardener was digging his plot as the priest came walking along.

“George” said the priest, “it is wonderful what God and man working together can do.”

George replied, “Yes sir, but you should have seen this garden last year when he had it all to himself!”

This old story nicely connects today’s first reading from Isaiah and the Gospel according to Matthew. The garden was a ruin as was Isaiah’s vineyard, and it becomes a thing of beauty through the hard work of George and the grace of a loving God. George is on the brink of the same error we see in Matthew’s tenants, he is in danger of the misguided belief that it is the work of his hands alone that has produced the beautiful garden.

The misguided idea that everything we have is the result of our efforts alone is common to most of us. Like George, we want to believe that at the moment of our greatest achievement we alone deserve the credit. It is the quintessentially American ideal of the self-made person.

Yet, we would do well to remember that everything we have is a gift from God. Certainly, we must cooperate with God and do our part, but we must resist the prideful notion that we can somehow achieve apart from God and thereby withhold from him his portion of the fruit of our effort and his share of the credit.

We not only grow in humility when we realize that it is the generosity of God that allows us to succeed. Also, we are relieved of the anxiety that comes from depending solely on the outcome of any particular endeavor. By faithfully contributing our talent we can rest assured that God will handle the results, but this does not guarantee that we will be successful in everything we do.

God knows best

In joining our efforts with God’s, we must also accept the fact that he knows what we need better than we do. The results may not be what we wish them to be, they may not even make sense at all. By putting the results firmly in the hands of God, we are relieved of the stress and worry that plague the life of modern man.

God’s gift to us is a world filled with the resources to provide for the needs of all. How we choose to utilize those resources is our gift to God, our contribution in his act of creation.

We can shirk our duties completely and produce wild grapes.

We can work with the resources God has given us and then exclude him and live as if he is not an integral part of all we accomplish, selfishly refusing to share these fruits with their rightful owner.

Rejecting laziness and hubris, we can choose to humbly acknowledge that, as servants of a loving God, all we have and produce belong first to him.

“Please, God, give each of us the grace to produce abundantly, not for ourselves, but for your greater glory.”

Deacon Gerard Christianson is in formation for the priesthood at The St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of Rockford, Ill. His home parish is St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge, Ill., and his teaching parish is Our Lady of Grace in Edina.

 


Readings

Sunday, Oct. 2
27th Sunday in ordinary time

• Isaiah 5:1-7 n Philippians 4:6-9
• Matthew 21:33-43

For reflection

Many athletes point to heaven when they make a good play. How do you point to God when you celebrate a success?

Category: The Lesson Plan