Dear friends in Christ, the readings for this Sunday will be Matthew 21:33-46; Philippians 3:4b-14; Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:7-19.
Where do you find the most pleasure in life? Let me offer you two very different possibilities. You can take pleasure in the things that belong to you or you can take pleasure in the One to whom you belong.
Sunday’s readings offer a comparison of these two opposing choices. Jesus’ parable of the vineyard is a warning of how those in leadership positions can become possessive and prideful about their influence over people (Matt 21). Many of God’s Old Testament people delighted in treating their neighbors as objects to be used and abused (Is. 5). St. Paul shows us a different way. In the old days he used to think he had it all: the right family, the right education, the right lifestyle. Now he finds his joy someplace else. He finds it in belonging to Jesus. For Paul, there is no greater joy than to “be found in Christ”, to have Christ’s righteousness, because Christ “has made me his own.” (Phil. 3)
What a different perspective Paul has from the world! It’s not the joy that comes from belongings, but the joy that comes from belonging to One greater than yourself. That is the kind of joy that lasts. That is the joy God wants for you.