26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

OPTION 2: There is an old Japanese legend that tells of a man who died and went to heaven. Heaven was beautiful full of lush gardens and glittering mansions. But then the man came to a room lined with shelves. On the shelves were stacked piles of human ears! A heavenly guide explained that these ears belonged to all the people on earth who listened each week to the word of God, but never acted on God’s teachings. Their worship never resulted in action. When these people died, therefore, only their ears ended up in heaven.

Today’s gospel is a parable about the contrasting attitudes of two sons. The first son said ‘No’ but after he came to his senses, he did his father’s wish. The second son said ‘Yes’ but later, he did nothing. The meaning of this parable is crystal clear. The Jewish leaders are the people who said they would obey God and then, did not. The tax collectors and the prostitutes are those who said that they would go their own way and then took God’s way.

The question is: who is better between these two sons? The one who said ‘no’ but at the end he fulfilled his father’s wish? Or the one who said ‘yes’ but later, he did nothing. May be our answer would be the one who said ‘no’ but at the end he did fulfill his father’s wish.

The key to the correct understanding of this parable is that it is not really praising anyone. It is because we have to admit that none of these are acceptable ways of conduct. I can say that no one is better that the other in the sense that the two sons both caused the father, pain and sorrow. The one caused pain at the beginning and the other one, at the end. None of the two was the kind of son to bring full joy to his father. Both could have been better sons by giving a whole-hearted “Yes” spontaneously and joyfully and by carrying out the order efficiently and not the other way around by which the ‘no’ of the first son turned into ‘yes’ and the ‘yes’ of the second one became a ‘no’. The true Christian should be better than both. What he says, he does. There should be consistency in his words and actions. What he teaches is what he acts.

But what happen now is that Jesus is dealing, not with people who have both: ‘what he says is what he does,’ but with a bunch of “earless” religious folk as well as today’s “earless” Christians in this gospel passage. And anyone of us can be ‘earless’ Christians. Our bodies are going anywhere else and only our ears will go to heaven. This passage, packs a powerful message, tells us very clearly that we have to have a healthy Christian moral life. This healthy Christian moral life is founded on three pillars:

The pillar is the assurance of grace. Our God, who is gracious, is a forgiving God. His assurance of grace to us is this: “He who has chosen to renounce all his sins shall certainly live,” (Ez. 18:27, our first reading). This grace is so is so insistent that by its forces many can and do change. In other words, we must develop our friendship with God and follow Christ faithfully.

In the Chapter 12 of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, which was sub-titled as, Developing Your Friendship with God, it is said that like any friendship we must work at developing our friendship with God. He gave at least four ways on how to develop our friendship with God.

First, we must choose to be honest with God. God does not expect to be perfect, but he does insist on complete honesty. If we look at the Bible, friends of God were not perfect. If perfection was a requirement for friendship with God, we would never be able to be His friends. Fortunately, because of God’s grace, is still the, ‘friends of sinners,’ (Matt 11:19).

Second, we must choose to obey God in faith. That every time we trust God’s wisdom and do whatever He says, even when we don’t understand it, we deepen our friendship with God. We obey God, not out of duty, fear or compulsion but because we love Him and trust that He knows what is best for us.

Third, we must choose to value what God values. This is what friends do they care about what is important to the other person. The more we become God’s friends, the more we will care about the things He cares about like: the redemption of His people. He wants all His lost children found! Friends of God tell their friends about God.

Fourth, we must desire friendship with God more than anything else. An example, for this is David in the Book of Psalms by which he used words like: longing, yearning, thirsting, hungering, etc.

The second pillar of Christian morality is the awesome gift of personal responsibility. This means that to be a person is to be responsible. To be responsible is to do one’s duty. God never excuses us from our duty. It is our duty to be consistent with what we say and do as proclaims by Jesus in today’s gospel. As Christians there should be consistency in our words and actions. What we teach is what we act. It is like this story of a businessman who was ordering 500 ballpoint pens from an office equipment salesman. The latter was writing the order in his notebook, when suddenly the buyer exclaimed: “Hold on! I’m canceling the order.”

The salesman left the store wondering why the wholesaler suddenly changed his mind. “Why did you suddenly cancel that order of ballpoint pens?” asked the surprised bookkeeper. The businessman angrily answered: “Because he talked about ballpoint pens to me for half an hour, using every convincing arguments and then he wrote out my order with a pencil! His practice did not agree with his profession.” In other words, a man’s words must be followed out by actions. No one likes a person of empty promises. “Seeing is believing,” is what an old adage had said.

The third pillar of Christian moral life is self-forgetfulness. Self-forgetfulness is not a false humility. It is rather to consider the other person better than us so that nobody thinks of his own interest but the interest of others, like what Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians (2:3-4, our second reading). Thinking of other people’s interest first, like the common good of the society, may entail larger considerations.

And also we are invited to enter God’s kingdom. But St. Paul in his Letter to the Galatians (5:19-21) taught us that we may not inherit God’s kingdom if we do the following: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1861) also added that although sin causes us exclusion from Christ’s kingdom, however, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

Today let us remember the “yes” we have said in our lives. It is still aloud: “Yes na yes?” Or is it now just a soft, “Yes na lang?” Whatever it is, keep saying, “Yes pa rin!”

*********************************************************************************************************

OR. There is an old Japanese legend that tells of a man who died and went to heaven. Heaven was beautiful full of lush gardens and glittering mansions. But then the man came to a room lined with shelves. On the shelves were stacked piles of human ears! A heavenly guide explained that these ears belonged to all the people on earth who listened each week to the word of God, but never acted on God’s teachings. Their worship never resulted in action. When these people died, therefore, only their ears ended up in heaven.

Today’s gospel is a parable about the contrasting attitudes of two sons. The first son said ‘No’ but after he came to his senses, he did his father’s wish. The second son said ‘Yes’ but later, he did nothing. The meaning of this parable is crystal clear. The Jewish leaders are the people who said they would obey God and then, did not. The tax collectors and the prostitutes are those who said that they would go their own way and then took God’s way.

The question is: who is better between these two sons? The one who said ‘no’ but at the end he fulfilled his father’s wish? Or the one who said ‘yes’ but later, he did nothing. May be our answer would be the one who said ‘no’ but at the end he did fulfill his father’s wish.

The key to the correct understanding of this parable is that it is not really praising anyone. It is because we have to admit that none of these are acceptable ways of conduct. I can say that no one is better that the other in the sense that the two sons both caused the father, pain and sorrow. The one caused pain at the beginning and the other one, at the end. None of the two was the kind of son to bring full joy to his father. Both could have been better sons by giving a whole-hearted “Yes” spontaneously and joyfully and by carrying out the order efficiently and not the other way around by which the ‘no’ of the first son turned into ‘yes’ and the ‘yes’ of the second one became a ‘no’. The true Christian should be better than both. What he says, he does. There should be consistency in his words and actions. What he teaches is what he acts.

But what happen now is that Jesus is dealing, not with people who have both: ‘what he says is what he does,’ but with a bunch of “earless” religious folk as well as today’s “earless” Christians in this gospel passage. And anyone of us can be ‘earless’ Christians. Our bodies are going anywhere else and only our ears will go to heaven. This passage, packs a powerful message, tells us:

First is, God’s grace is shocking. Billy Graham said: “Grace is not sought nor bought nor wrought. It is a free gift of Almighty God to needy mankind.” Graham said this because grace means God’s favor to us; it is God’s gratuitous gift to rational creature (angel and human being) for the ultimate purpose of fitting us for eternal life. Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1999) also says: “The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification.”

But God’s grace is shocking because, as Thomas Carlyle said: “Grace turns lions into lambs, wolves into sheep, monsters into men and men into angels.”

Second is how we are to live our lives. As Christians there should be consistency in our words and actions. What we teach is what we act. It is like this story of a businessman who was ordering 500 ballpoint pens from an office equipment salesman. The latter was writing the order in his notebook, when suddenly the buyer exclaimed: “Hold on! I’m canceling the order.”

The salesman left the store wondering why the wholesaler suddenly changed his mind. “Why did you suddenly cancel that order of ballpoint pens?” asked the surprised bookkeeper. The businessman angrily answered: “Because he talked about ballpoint pens to me for half an hour, using every convincing arguments and then he wrote out my order with a pencil! His practice did not agree with his profession.” In other words, a man’s words must be followed out by actions. No one likes a person of empty promises. “Seeing is believing,” is what an old adage had said.

Third is, no one is excluded from the Kingdom of God, not even a Pharisee. All of us are invited to enter God’s kingdom. But St. Paul in his Letter to the Galatians (5:19-21) taught us that we may not inherit God’s kingdom if we do the following: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1861) also added that although sin causes us exclusion from Christ’s kingdom, however, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

In this case we must develop our friendship with God and follow Christ faithfully.

In the Chapter 12 of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, which was sub-titled as, Developing Your Friendship with God, it is said that like any friendship we must work at developing our friendship with God. He gave at least four ways on how to develop our friendship with God.

First, we must choose to be honest with God. God does not expect to be perfect, but he does insist on complete honesty. If we look at the Bible, friends of God were not perfect. If perfection was a requirement for friendship with God, we would never be able to be His friends. Fortunately, because of God’s grace, is still the, ‘friends of sinners,’ (Matt 11:19).

Second, we must choose to obey God in faith. That every time we trust God’s wisdom and do whatever He says, even when we don’t understand it, we deepen our friendship with God. We obey God, not out of duty, fear or compulsion but because we love Him and trust that He knows what is best for us.

Third, we must choose to value what God values. This is what friends do they care about what is important to the other person. The more we become God’s friends, the more we will care about the things He cares about like: the redemption of His people. He wants all His lost children found! Friends of God tell their friends about God.

Fourth, we must desire friendship with God more than anything else. An example, for this is David in the Book of Psalms by which he used words like: longing, yearning, thirsting, hungering, etc.

Today let us remember the “yes” we have said in our lives. It is still aloud: “Yes na yes?” Or is it now just a soft, “Yes na lang?” Whatever it is, keep saying, “Yes pa rin!”

See Today’s Readings:  Cycle A

Back to: Twenty Six in ordinary Time (Year A)

This entry was posted in zz. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s