for Sunday, September 28, 2014
We are all like both of these sons in the Gospel of Matthew today, whether we are men or women. The image is not about men, it is about humans. These images from the Gospel are meant to help us see ourselves as we are and to choose to follow God as much as we can. It is important not to think that somehow we can become perfect. Yes, we can aim at that, but the perfection is always in the love that we have for God and for others, not in achieving everything perfectly in all that we do.
The first reading today, from the Prophet Ezekiel, is such a clear invitation to turn away from sin. Right away we must recognize that this invitation is a life invitation. It is not something that you or I can do once and for all - except perhaps with an incredibly special grace from God. What is more normal is that we spend our whole life seeking to turn away from sin and to give our hearts and our actions to the Lord. It is an ongoing process until our death.
Thus we can see the spirituality of the second reading today, from the Letter to the Philippians: become obedient, even unto death. For Jesus our Savior, this was His whole life. For us, it can become our life, bringing us much joy and delight in the struggle. Even for Jesus, this obedience was a struggle, even though He was always obedient. For us, it is again the struggle to return to obedience when we fail and to keep trying to be obedience always.
The spiritual teaching of the readings today can be summed up in this sentence from the second reading: Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.
Although this is truly simple advice, most of us cannot live it consistently and so we must struggle day after day. We want to live our relationship with God in such a way that we are responding to His love for us. Over and over most of us fail. What truly distinguishes a follower of Jesus is that the follower continues trying to be faithful, day after day, for a whole lifetime. We can understand the phrase: the Lord's way is not fair, and yet we accept that God's way are always fair and ours are not, so we keep trying to be faithful.
Every Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord. We bear witness to the joy of the Resurrection but our faithfulness in seeking His will and in striving to be faithful. Our faith is renewed daily because we know God's compassion and forgiveness. To Him be glory forever. Amen.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Ezekiel 18.25-28
Second Reading: Philippians 2.1-11
Gospel: Matthew 21.28-32
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: