A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – 10/1/17 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Nobody likes to be reprimanded. Nobody enjoys get called out in front of others. And certainly nobody wants to be told that they are going to be excluded, and others that were previously judged inferior, are going to be included, in something that is obviously very important. It’s embarrassing! It’s terribly embarrassing! This is even a lot worse than getting pulled over for speeding by the Westfield Police, in front of a church, your own church, as school is dismissing. And all the SUV’s and minivans are driving by and waving. Not that I know anything about that. But all of this is exactly what is happening to the chief priests and elders of the Jewish people. Jesus uses this parable of these two sons, one who says he is going to obey and doesn’t, and one who refuses at first, and then does obey, to warn the chief priests and elders. These religious leaders are losing the Kingdom of God, because they are not living as God wants. They are real good at saying nice words. They just never get around to actually living, or doing, what God teaches. And the tax collectors and prostitutes do!
In many ways, this is exactly the same thing going on in our first reading today, from Ezekiel. The people don’t think that it’s fair! They are whining and moaning. But it is Ezekiel who speaks up for God, as a Prophet is supposed to do, and Ezekiel tells the people that it is not that God isn’t fair, the problem is that they have sinned! These Jewish people are being punished because of their wickedness and lack of virtue, not because God is cruel or unfair. They learn that they are responsible for their own actions. If they do what is right and just, they will live; if they do NOT, they will die.
This same encouragement is what St. Paul is talking to us about in his letter to the Philippians. The promise of life is based upon our human free will and our capacity to choose that which is good, and right, and just! St. Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others. Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.” There you have it! It’s quite simple really. Think like Jesus does! What would Jesus do? The little rubber bracelet thing is right. And stop thinking and acting as the world does! The world is NOT going to get us to Heaven. Think of that the next time you want that newer phone, or car, or house. The world is not going to save us. The world is going to put us in a hole in the ground.
We can, my brothers and sisters, through the practice of virtue and with God’s grace, choose the things in this world that are good and which are life-giving. Even when our human faults cloud our understanding, we can still choose to follow God’s command. Just look at the first son in the parable from today’s Gospel. We don’t know why he initially refused to do what his father asked. What we do know, is that by his actions, that he is the one of the two brothers who had the same attitude as Christ. And why? It is because he is the one who did as his father asked. Sometimes we too have to think about things before we do the right thing. That’s ok. As long as we do the right thing. We need to listen to our conscience. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit. And we need to have the courage to always do the right thing. Even in a world where that’s not happening as much as it used to happen.
Let us trust in God’s promises. We rely on Christ’s help and we ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to work in us and on us every day, so that we too might have the attitude of Christ! And may we never be embarrassed in front of our God. Not on Judgement Day. And not on Spring Mill Road in front of His Church!
+ May God bless us this day, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!