September 28: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: Ezekiel 18:25-28; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32
The readings of this Sunday underline the true meaning of doing God's will. It means taking full responsibility where we are wrong or simply lazy, asking for God's mercy and working for the Kingdom. Paul in the Second Reading offers a profound reflection on Christ as the perfect model for us, in his obedience to God's will. Thus obedience to God means becoming like Christ. He was divine, but did not consider himself to be equal to God. Rather Jesus humbled himself to the point of dying on the cross. The key to understanding the message of today’s reading is found in the First Reading where the prophet Ezekiel tells the Jews in exile that a wicked person always has the opportunity to turn back and receive forgiveness. If the righteous person sins he or she will be punished, but if the wicked person repents he or she will be rewarded. Logically this applies to the righteous one who has gone astray, and who now comes back. God loves everyone - but He does not love their sins! We often encounter God separating Himself from the chosen people when they broke the covenant through disobedience, and when they rejected God and His ways. Likewise, when God separates Himself today from us when we disobey, God is not breaking His New Covenant of grace.
In the Gospel, Jesus speaks to the Chief priests and Elders. In his address to them, Jesus uses a very clear example in the parable of the two sons. The central point of the story is that we tend to share the attitude of the second son, who says "yes" and then does nothing. Jesus calls our attention to the danger of living a double life of disobedience, while giving the impression of being the best. Jesus challenges us to be transformed like the second son who says “no” and then undergoes a change of heart that led him to say “yes.” We know that faithfulness to Christ and to his message can only be expressed through a change of heart that leads to doing something to bring about the Kingdom by giving witness. The chief priests and the elders who listen to Jesus spoke much about God and the observance of the Law, but only paid lip service. They could see the spirit of love, compassion, caring and forgiveness of Jesus, but that never led to any change of heart. Tax collectors and prostitutes on the other hand, were not keeping God’s Law. They had said “no” to God’s commandments. Upon meeting Jesus they experienced a radical transformation in their lives. They listened and responded positively. The chief priests and the elders are like the second son who said ‘Yes’, but disobeyed. We are called to be faithful to Jesus and say yes to him listening to his word and obeying him. If we were to be filled with that same spirit that Jesus had we would have nothing to fear. That was the point of Jesus’ message. We are challenged to avoid cursing the darkness of injustice around us. We are invited rather to light candles of hope for so many voiceless poor people, who see no solution to their desperate situation. In other words, we must not simply lament about corrupt financial institutions, government systems or electoral mechanisms. We must say no to them in the name of Christ by voting out those who are corrupt; those who tell lies and half-truths to remain in power. What is the message? 1) Doing God's will might mean giving Christian witness in the social and civil field, in our proper roles as Christian citizens called by Christ to make a difference in civil society; 2) As Christians, we must never pay lip service to our right to vote; not to exercise that right is like cursing the darkness, instead of lighting a candle. May God give us the grace to do God’s will.
©2008 John M Mbinda