So many of our problems come from thinking that our life belongs to us. Take our lack of patience, for example, when we say that someone is “wasting my time.” “My” time? Does your time belong to you? No! It was an entirely unmerited free gift from God to you. Your existence is fundamentally like that. It doesn’t belong to you. You’re like the vineyard in today’s first reading (Isaiah 5:1-7): God planted the vineyard (he created you), he tended the vineyard (he has guided and helped you to grow), he planted choice vines in it (he put love and hope in your heart). For sure, you have a role to play, too; he gave you to you to look after. But you don’t own yourself. You’re like a tenant of the beautiful creation that is yourself. It’s like the natural environment; we always have to remember that we’re not the owners of the environment, but the stewards of it. It’s the same with your own existence.
We’ve got to remember that we are just stewards of ourselves so that we can relax and stop trying to be someone else than the person God created us to be. Don’t try and grow into someone else. We spend so much time and energy trying to be someone other than the unique and wonderful person God created us to be. We always want to be a leader. Or we always want to be the funny or interesting one. Or we’ve always wanted so badly to excel in our work or our study. We try and control our own destiny, but we’re like a passenger in a car trying to change the destination by grabbing the steering wheel. It bears sour grapes, bad fruit. Violence, in particular. It’s always a source of violence in our lives when we try and seize control of our own existence. Just like the murderous tenants in the parable (Mt 21:33-43), it makes us violent towards others, whether physically or emotionally. When we stop trying to be someone other than who God created us to be, we can get on with the real business of life, aka bearing the fruits God planted us for.
‘The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ (Ga 5,22) They are lovely fruits, both for you and for those around you. If you bear that kind of fruits, that’s a great outcome for your life. At the end of your life will it really matter if you were the funniest person in the room, or if you were a kind and gentle person? If you got promoted to the top job, or if you were a peaceful and joyful person? As St Catherine of Siena said, ‘Be who God created you to be, and you will set the world on fire.’
– Philip-Thomas Edwards, CSJ
(Photo by Anna Kaminova on Unsplash)