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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Ezekiel 18:25-28
Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (6a)
Philippians 2:1-11
Matthew 21:28-32
September 27, 2020

Today Jesus poses a question to the chief priests and the elders.  They have been asking him questions.  They often asked Jesus questions to try to trap him to get rid of him.

Jesus has a different motive in asking the chief priests and the elders a question.  He wants to get them thinking about what they should actually be doing versus what they have been doing.

He speaks to them about a man who had two sons.  He told the first son to go out and work in the vineyard that day.  The first son replied, “’I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went.”

The man said the same thing to his second son.  This son replied, “‘Yes, sir.’ But did not go.”

What question did Jesus ask?  “Which of the two did his father’s will?”

Jesus did not ask which son claimed he would do what his father said.  That would be the second son.  Jesus asked who actually did it.  That would be the first son who had said no.

The first son was like the tax collectors and prostitutes who, in their sins, had been refusing to do God’s Will.  However, upon hearing Jesus’ preaching the Kingdom of God, they repeated and came to do what the Father asked of them.  They surrendered to the Father’s Will.

The second son is like the chief priests and elders who claimed to do God’s Will.  They even taught others what God commanded but they did not do it themselves.  They did not truly surrender themselves to the Father’s Will.

I wonder how the chief priests and the elders felt when “Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.

How would you feel if Jesus said this to you?

This was not a new problem in Jesus’ days on Earth.  Some 600 years before, God spoke through Ezekiel about those who had been following God’s ways, living a virtuous life but then turn away from virtue to sin.  Even though they had been leading virtuous lives in the past, they will suffer for their sins because they turned away from God.  Being a Christian is not simply about doing more good than bad.  To be Christian is to have God in your heart in the here and now. 

On the other hand, God speaks about those who had been leading a wicked life but turn from the wickedness to do “what is right and just.” They will be saved.  They may have spent many years in sin but they realize the error of their ways and repent.  When they repent, God forgives because He loves us.

This gives us hope.

We could live in fear and dread of the consequences of our sins.  God wants us to turn from sin but not simply out of fear.  God wants us to turn from sin based on the hope of his love.  God wants us to see how we need to consistently follow him. 

Paul calls the Philippians to be “of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.” 

Whose mind?  Whose love?  Thinking what one thing?

Paul continues, “Have in you the same attitude, that is also in Christ Jesus.”  The mind and heart we seek is that of Jesus Christ.  It is a path of humility.

Jesus is the Son of God but He is a humble person.  Jesus did not seek special status as the Son of God. 

Rather than hold onto his divinity for his own glory, Jesus “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself.” 

He did not do this for his own glory.  He emptied himself for us.  He did this because it was the Father’s Will.  He does this because He loves us. 

He was obedient even to the point of death.  It is his obedience that saves us from our own disobedience in sin.  Thank you Jesus!

What are we to do? 

Repent!  Go to confession!  Ask the Lord’s help!  We do well to repeat the words of the psalmist, “Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.

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