From the Pastor's Desk
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary time
Today’s Scripture passages warn us that it is our final decision for or against God, that is, our choosing to obey Him gracefully by doing His will or our choosing to go against His will, which will decide our eternal reward or punishment. As free beings, we are the ones who choose our eternal destiny.
In the first reading, the Lord God, through His prophet, Ezekiel, corrects the Jewish beliefs that children inherit the guilt of their ancestors and are punished for their sins, and that God is more strict than merciful. God explains that His mercy overrules strict justice and that He will punish us only for our sins, not for the sins of our ancestors.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 25) appeals to God’s compassion and mercy, begging Him to wipe away our sins and extend mercy to us.
The second reading, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, also affirms the truth that the final choice for God, made by perfect obedience to Him, will be rewarded. Paul emphasizes the fact that it is because of Christ’s obedience to God’s will in emptying himself, taking human form and humbling himself by accepting even death on a cross that God the Father exalted Christ, bestowed on him the Name above every other name, and made Jesus the recipient of universal adoration.
In the parable in today’s Gospel, a man with two sons tells both to go out to work in the vineyard. The first son says he won’t go, but later regrets it and works. The second son says he will go but does not. In each case, it is the final decision that is more important. Jesus teaches through this short parable that repentant tax-collectors and prostitutes, represented by the first son who initially refused to go, will make their way into the Kingdom of God before the chief priests and the elders, represented by the second son in the parable. By their pride and their refusal to obey God's call to repentance, the scribes and the Pharisees are excluding themselves, while the tax-collectors and sinners whom they despised are repenting of their sins and will be accepted into God's Kingdom. It is a parable on the necessity of offering a continual “yes” to the saving act of God.
1) We need to do God’s will every day: Each one of us is responsible to God for every one of our actions, and the just God will punish or reward each individual according to that person’s actions. Since we are not sure about the moment of our death, our only guarantee of dying in God's friendship is to live in that friendship always, saying “Yes,” to God by doing His will.
2) It is never too late for us to repent, be converted, and allow the Holy Spirit to renew our life: If we have been disobedient to God in our past life, we need to knock at the door of God’s mercy. God can, and will, do for us what, in his mercy, He, did for the repentant tax-collectors and harlots in the parable and in real life. Hence, every night we need to repent of our sins and ask God’s pardon. If we are in serious sin we also to be reconciled with God, the Church and our brothers and sisters through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in order to be able to receive Jesus Holy Communion. Let us remember that it is never too late for us to turn back to God.