26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: Ez 18:25-28; Phil 2:1-11; Mt 21:28-32
Transformation from wrong doing to faithfulness; from saying “no” to saying “yes”; from complacency to doing God’s will. Those phrases sum up best the message of this Sunday. The readings of this Sunday underline the true meaning of doing God's will. It means taking full responsibility when we are wrong or simply complacent and lazy, by asking for God's mercy and working for the Kingdom. In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel tells the Jews in exile that a virtuous person must remain obedient and faithful always. Likewise a wicked person always has the opportunity to turn back and receive forgiveness. If the righteous person sins he or she will be punished and if the wicked person repents will be rewarded. In todays Second Reading, we have one of the most beautiful passages about the mystery of God’s love through Christ in the entire Bible. St. Paul begins by telling the people to be kind, and loving, and merciful to each other. The Philippians and us of today are to put the interests of others first as Christ did. That is why Paul says that we should have the same attitude in life as Jesus had. Jesus was forever God, but he did not regard this as something to cling to. Instead He emptied Himself of his divinity. He became a human being. More than this, he became a slave for all of us. Jesus obeyed His Father for our sakes, even when this obedience led to His death on the Cross. Thus obedience to God means becoming like Christ who was divine, but did not consider himself to be equal to God. Rather out of obedience He humbled himself to the point of dying on the cross.
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 conversion of heart that leads 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 living out our faith. 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 by listening to his word and obeying him. If we are to be filled with that same spirit that Jesus had we would have nothing to fear in our witness. That is 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 ecomomic situation. In other words, we must not simply lament about the economy, unemployment, broken government systems or electoral mechanisms. We must say no in the ballot box next year to change the situation. So what message do we take home? 1) We are called to be faithful to Jesus by saying yes to him; by listening to his word and obeying him and his Church. If we are to be filled with that same spirit that Jesus had we would have nothing to fear in our witness. 2) Doing God's will might mean giving Christian witness in the ethical, social and civil field, in our proper roles as Christian citizens called by Christ to make a difference in civil society; 3) We must never pay lip service to our Constitutional right to vote; not to exercise that right is like cursing the darkness, instead of lighting a candle. May God give us the grace and the courage to do God’s will.
©2011 John S.Mbinda