Thursday, September 25, 2014

Twenty Sixth 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 this Sunday underline the true meaning of doing God's will. It means taking full responsibility when we are wrong, complacent or 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 remains obedient and always faithful. 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 today’s 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, 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 exhorts us to have the same attitude Jesus had.  Jesus was God, but he did not regard his divinity 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 tells 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. In the gospel, Jesus challenges us to be transformed like the second son who says “no” and then undergoes conversion that leads him to say “yes.” Faithfulness to Christ can only be expressed through a change of heart that leads to being the best version of ourselves. The chief priests and the elders spoke much about God and the observance of the Law, but only paid lip service. Tax collectors and prostitutes on the other hand, were not keeping God’s Law. They had said “no” to God’s commandments, yet some were touched by Christ’s message and transformed. We are called to be the best version of ourselves by embracing the message of Jesus so He may transform us. 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 economic situation. In other words, we must not simply lament about the economy, unemployment, broken government systems or electoral mechanisms. We must say no at the ballot box this November to change the situation. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) We are called as disciples and stewards to be the best version of ourselves by saying yes to Jesus Christ; by listening to his word and doing God’s will. 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.

©2014 John S.Mbinda

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