Are you bearing fruit? Seeing our own limitations, forming and examining our conscience, and connecting with God’s mercy is something that takes deliberate and intentional work, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit and thanks to the insights of the saints who’ve gone before us.

Father Ian VanHeusen presents an examination of conscience and spiritual exercises on the Mass reading from the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 21, the parable of the tenants who beat, stone and kill the landowner’s servants, and then murder the landowner’s son.

We invite you to watch Father’s video, then prayerfully read the Gospel and reflection. We pray that this might help you in your apostolate, your family, your classroom, or personally… to prepare for and more deeply experience Sunday’s Mass, and to better integrate the Sacrament and the readings into your daily life.

Three questions for an examination of conscience

1. Are you missing signs of the Holy Spirit?

2. Are you offering proper thanks and gratitude to God?

3. Are you generous with what God has given you?

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (21:33-43)

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.  But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes? Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

Spiritual Exercise

1. Look back on the past year, month, week or day of your life. Have you missed signs from God? Have you ignored multiple calls to conversion? Both through individual discernment and communal signs, voices, reminders… what little or not-so-little messages have you missed to turn your heart to God?

2. Spend some quiet time today in prayer of thanksgiving to God. Make a plan to go to Mass this week with a more intentional awareness of His profligate love in your life. The Father is asking for a return for all the gifts we’ve been given, which we give in the form of proper worship and gratitude in our hearts. Our attention and disposition at Holy Mass is the primary way we do this, beginning with being in a state of grace. If you are not properly disposed to receive the Eucharist, go to Confession before Sunday. If it’s been so long that you can’t remember your last confession, go.

3. Spend some time reflecting on your generosity with your own time, treasure and talents. Have you been giving of yourself? Have you been selfish? Are there better ways to give of yourself? How can you translate your right worship (above in #2) to your charity towards the other people in your life?