A new people built and fed on the body of Christ

Father, may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word, Jesus Christ our Lord.

I bought some new bird feeders for my garden the other week. I adore birds so I filled them up with sunflower hearts and waited to see what birds came. Surely enough some blackbirds came and enjoyed the produce. Then a couple of days later I went to refill them and the squirrels had not only been at the seed but chewed around the hole where the birds could peck at the seed. The holes that they had made where now so big I couldn’t put anymore seed in and I couldn’t hang them up anymore – the squirrels had decided somewhere along the line they would take and protect what they thought what was their own and at whatever cost!

Today’s Gospel is rich in metaphor and imagery, of a landowner devastated by the breakdown of trust from the tenants, of tenants who believe they are owed more than what they think they are receiving.

They are blinded by keeping the produce, clinging onto the things they can see and protecting it at whatever cost. And what happens, they manage to kill the landowner’s son as they refuse to believe that there is anything more precious that what they can accumulate for themselves.

If we are honest we can see ourselves as the tenants in this parable. How tightly we hold onto things, onto possessions, positions, power, control, we love to have things our own way, why should anyone else take a produce that we have looked after ourselves, we deserve it, these are our rules and we reject any who tell us otherwise.

Paul in the letter to the Philippians speaks of the need for humanity to have status, to be confident in our own doings, in our own rules, and he says after the loss of all things, he regards all of that as rubbish, yes rubbish, because he has gained Christ and gained the knowledge that Jesus is in control.

The landowner who provides for the tenants who have faith in him, who trust that their reward for growing have a place in the kingdom.

After all in the vineyard, growing is the work, and we are called to work, growing a new people built on the cornerstone, a new people made from and built on the body of Christ.

We are being called to be a new people, made on the foundations of Christ, built on his body, sustained by his body, to be the body of Christ in the world.

This means stepping out of our human boundaries, to not seek the things we feel when we are most pressed, to step away from the need to feed ourselves on ourselves and our own produce. We need the bread that is the body of Christ, that bread which transforms and challenges our human desire for self satisfaction.

Paul says beloved I do not consider that I have made it my own, but this one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul shows the urgency of keeping moving forward walking with Jesus, feeding on him, so we can leave our sin and mistakes behind us, we cannot grow or build if we keep looking behind us, we must press on, working, growing, being re-focused on the will, the mission of God, realising that our ignorance because of self satisfaction is distorting our life and those around us.

The sorrow of the Gospel today cries out to us to reevaluate what we are doing, are we living only to satisfy ourselves, to stand and admire our produce in the vineyard?

Like the squirrels who admired their bounty, and not thought further than themselves, they have destroyed the thing that was actually feeding them.

We are being called to be a new people, made on the foundations of Christ, built on his body, sustained by his body, to be the body of Christ in the world.

As we take Jesus into us today, during this Holy communion, this indwelling of him in us and us in him, let us ask for the Holy Spirit to remind us of our love for Christ and of our trust in Him.

Amen.

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