Best, I think, to begin with the words of St. Paul this Sunday:
…whatever is true… honorable…just… pure… lovely… gracious,
if there is any excellence… anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Yes, first off think about this list that St. Paul has set before his listeners because they are filled with faith, hope, and love. In the recipe for recovery, restoration, and healing (whether needed here or in a world shattered) these are the needed ingredients; not one of these ingredients may be left out. What else besides truth and honesty, justice and honor, love and purity of heart would heal a broken family or, for that matter, restore the impoverished, feed the hungry, or bring freedom to the oppressed of this world?
Paul’s words are spoken against the backdrop of his fellow Jews seeking restoration and reunification as a chosen people, while his fellow Roman citizens are seeking a meaning and purpose for their existence beyond the rule of an all too human Caesar. It is not dissimilar to the backdrop of the “disappointing vineyard and the outrageously greedy vineyard tenants” spoken of in the first reading and the gospel for today. Their ultimate blindness to God’s will for them results in killing the son of the landowner; it is not much of a stretch then to understand how our own blindness can pave the way to crucifying the body of Christ, the Son whom the Father sends to us, all over again.
[I must caution here against the notion that the glorified Jesus is bleeding in heaven, or that our sins are pushing the crown of thorns deeper into his head—all the while the saints are having a dandy good time eternally. The Body of Christ does suffer—but that is Christ’s Body the Church. It’s right here, still on earth, that our sins cause suffering and it is here where Jesus’ words are realized, “When you did it to the least of your brothers and sisters, you did it to me!”]
Saint Paul’s words to the first Christians and to us serve as a remedy for spiritual blindness. “… in everything,” he goes on to say, “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” To give our hearts and minds to God for the cause of lasting healing and peace will ultimately save us from—ourselves.