September 28, 2014 - 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted Sep 26, 2014, 10:12 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:32 PM ]

Gospel of Matthew 21: 28-32

Chris' Reflection
In the Gospel reading Jesus talks about two sons. One of them says he won’t work, but eventually changes his mind. The other son tells his father that he will work, but never does. Jesus says that the first son has done his father’s will and is more deserving of the kingdom of heaven.

The message that sticks out for me is: don’t be fake. It is better to eventually turn things around than pretend to be good if you really aren’t. The second son claimed to be obedient, be a good worker, but in the end he didn’t do anything. It reminds me of people who say they are Catholic, say they believe in God, but then turn around and treat people horribly (like honking at drivers in the parking lot right after mass). God doesn’t want us to be fake and God knows when we lie. We only hurt ourselves by continually lying because the lies will all be called out someday, whether here or in the afterlife.

The Gospel reminds me of a friend I had in high school. He asked to borrow my phone and when he gave it back the phone was off. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized he had taken the sim card from my phone. When I asked him about it the next day, he denied it and brushed me aside. I couldn’t believe it. Why would he just steal something? Why would he take it from me, when I thought we were friends? How can he be so casual about this? I was in such disbelief that I didn’t know how to respond to the situation. In the end I decided that a fake friend was not worth my time. If he wanted to lie and steal, I’d leave it up to God to deal with it. It wasn’t easy to do, but it felt good to just lift the pain and confusion, just lift it right up to God.

God doesn’t want fake people. He can forgive criminals and prostitutes, bullies and oppressors, but they first have to forgive themselves. Pretending to be good is just as bad as being bad. Lying prevents us from being truly open to God’s word.

Rita's Reflection
When I think of all the times that I've said one thing and done another, when I've failed to meet my commitments, when I haven't kept my promises, I can't help but feel a bit of remorse.
  • To my mom: I'm sorry. I should've taken out the trash like I said I would do.
  • To my husband: I'm sorry. I should've been there on time like I said I would be.
  • To my friends: I'm sorry. I should've had your back like I said I would have.
Remorse can be a good thing. Sometimes it stirs a feeling within us that causes us to own up to our shortcomings and make amends with others and with ourselves. Sometimes it causes us to repent.

Repentance is better. That is what John the Baptist was calling the people of his time -- and for all time -- to do. His challenge and invitation is to repent for our sins; to change our heart; to do good; to sin no more. Repentance is not remorse. Remorse is a feeling. Repentance is action. It is not enough to feel bad. We are called to do something positive about it. When we repent of our sins, we choose to live intentionally and not "sin that sin" again. We commit freely with our heart and mind; with our words and deeds. I commit to helping my mom without being asked. I commit to showing up to Church on time. I commit to making time to workout with a friend.

In today's Gospel, Jesus uses the Parable of the Two Sons to teach the Pharisees. The Pharisees were people who emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Law of Moses in both its oral and written form. Although they claimed to hold firmly to their religion, they often pretended to be holier than they were. In the Bible, they are often depicted as self-righteous people. Jesus asks them what they think about these two sons. He asks which is doing's their father's will. The Pharisees answer that the first son who said he would not work but then went to work did his father's will. Jesus wants them to see these sons as themselves. Will they be like the first son or remain like the second? Jesus doesn't force them to change, but he gives them the opportunity to realize their hypocrisy and repent.

Repentance is not always easy, but isn't salvation worth it? The sacrament of Reconciliation is a wonderful opportunity to offer ourselves to God's mercy and forgiveness. We are given a clean slate to live our lives, to do His will, and to sin no more.

When is the last time you verbally repented for your sins, wrongdoings, & bad habits? Does your lifestyle now reflect the same? Does your lifestyle reflect the faith you proclaim?