Cultivating Our Vineyards
Our souls are our God~given vineyards and just like any vineyard, they require proper cultivation. The readings for Mass today speak about vineyards and we hear how the owners built walls or hedges around them and put watchtowers in them.
We need to do the same with our souls and there better be someone other than ourselves in that watchtower; Jesus needs to be the Watchman, but we have to invite Him and allow Him to be so. In the spiritual life, guarding the vineyard of our souls is often referred to as guarding our hearts and guarding our senses.
Many of us know from first hand experience what happens when we do not put up the proper protection around our hearts and souls, and when we refuse to allow Jesus entrance into the Vineyard to cultivate it and watch over it. The devil comes in instead and we end up with the vineyard of our souls looking like the one described in Isaiah today~ overgrown with thorns and briers and we end up with wild, sour grapes instead of the sweet wine produced by God's grace.
St Paul has the formula for us today in his letter to the Philippians for proper cultivation and protection of our souls:
"...whatever is true, whatever is honorable,whatever is just, whatever is pure,whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise,think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you." (see Phil. 4:6~9)
Today is also the feast of The Guardian Angels. God has given each of us our own special angel to guard and protect us throughout our lives, but like Jesus, these heavenly friends will not interfere with our free will; we need to ask for their guidance and protection and also remember to thank them for it.
Finally, we remember the sanctity of human life at every stage today as it is Respect Life Sunday here in the United States. Those who choose to abort their children, or end life because it is seen as unproductive have allowed the vineyards of their souls to wither and die. As someone who thought abortion was the only answer, I know what it is to refuse Jesus and live with a dead soul. By God's grace, I also know that God always stands ready to take us back and recultivate our dead and overgrown souls if we ask Him to.
Let us offer our prayers today for all those who have refused the Son and have allowed their souls to die, for the souls of the unborn and for their mothers and fathers: those who still have time to choose that they may choose life and for those who have chosen to end the life of their child, that they may seek and find healing.
As for ourselves, may we continue to ask Jesus to be the Defender and Protector of our souls. May He give us the grace to guard our hearts and senses at all times so that the vineyard of our souls will always bear fruit that will last.