Yesterday evening, once the whole day was over…I went over to a family’s house for a baptism party. This little girl comes up and asks me: “Are you the real Jesus?” I kind of felt like an impostor! Then she started asking about what a priest does and so on. I thought about what I do….and all of it is about this: bearing fruit. Everything a priest is supposed to be doing should be bearing fruit for the kingdom.
But that is the same for all of us! At baptism, God gives us this charge: to bear fruit. It’s kind of like we’re a tree, and we’re planted in Jesus at baptism. We are supposed to bear fruit in our life. Because we’re planted in Jesus, we don’t have an excuse not to.
In our Gospel, we see the same message. God in his goodness, he entrusts not just one tree but an entire vineyard to his tenants. In this parable the landowner entrusts a corner of his kingdom to his tenant, and it’s the tenant’s job to look after the vineyard, make sure it’s healthy and growing.
Because one day the landowner will come back. He will ask the tenant: Where’s my fruit??
God loves to entrust corners of his kingdom to people. This is nothing new. St Joe’s, we’re a corner of the kingdom. Your houses, corners of the kingdom. The Garden of Eden, a corner of the kingdom given to our ancestors.
The thing of it is, God is always entrusting things to us. We are the stewards. It’s our job to make sure things are growing, doing well, staying alive.
You know, God always sends reminders to us to keep things going and growing, not to get too comfortable in our vineyard. Remember our ancestors in the faith….they had been in Egypt in slavery, and then they come to the Promised Land and God entrusts to them certain parts of it. But they do a lousy job keeping the land holy and fruitful, so God sends reminders…..he sends prophets, judges, psalmists…to remind the people to be faithful.
They didn’t listen. So then God says what the landowner says in our parable today to his tenants who had been doing a terrible job at keeping the vineyard growing: “I know! I will send my son! Surely they will listen to him!”
But then they kill the son in the parable. Just as we killed Jesus.
Close your eyes. Imagine you are sitting in this church, and you’re all alone. Then Jesus comes next to you and sits there. He puts his arm around you and asks, “What have you done with the gifts I have given you? What have you done with that talent? Have you built up my kingdom with it? What have you done with the money I’ve given you? What did you do in your little corner of the kingdom? Did you bear fruit in your corner of the kingdom?”
That’s what’s going to happen, I think, when we die. In our Gospel, Jesus says he will ask us what fruits have we produced. We must not go to God empty handed.
We’re like trees planted in Jesus at baptism, and so long as we are faithful, we just produce fruits naturally. It just happens. We don’t have to try that hard, because we’re planted so firmly in Jesus. No matter what happens, how many storms or droughts come, we keep on producing fruits….why? becuase we’re planted so deeply in Our Christ. So when that day comes when Jesus asks what fruits we’ve produced, we’ll give him a whole bushel full.