Most of us work hard to build our lives. Through our presence and work in a place, we stake a claim to “what is ours.” If someone challenges our claims, we can feel threatened. We might seek to rid ourselves of this stumbling block, undermining the authority of the challenger by spreading malicious gossip or by working to neutralize their threat.

But what if this stumbling block, this stone we reject while “building” our lives, is actually the cornerstone upon which the Lord wishes to build a life for us? The vineyard in which we work is not ours, no matter how hard we may work within it. Let us learn to find our joy not in claiming the fruit of the vineyard for ourselves (which would be stealing), but rather let us rejoice in offering it up to the one who allows us the privilege of working in his vineyard for the salvation of all.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ, is a newly ordained priest of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently serving as the associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church in New Orleans.