Homily - Homily for XXVI (26) Sunday Year A - Fr. Lubem Robert Waya osj

27 September 2020 

Homily for XXVI (26) Sunday Year A. 27-09-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj. 
 First Reading: Ezekiel 18:25-28 
 Psalm: Psalm 24(25):4-9 
 Second Reading: Philippians 2:1-11 
 Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32 
 
When life throws filth at us we question and grumble and sometimes we even accuse God of being unjust to us. Often times this is our experience when we have been faithful to God and at a point, we begin to feel that we are deserving of certain divine benefits and privileges. When such expectations are not met, there comes moments we begin to feel disappointed and we say that God is unjust to us for not paying us for all the services and the sacrifices we make for His causes. We forget that God does not owe us anything. This was the feeling of the people of Israel in our first reading today where the prophet Ezekiel is addressing them as exiles in Babylon after the destruction of Jerusalem. As second generation of exiles they were questioning why they should suffer exile when it was indeed their forefathers who disobeyed God. They assumed this was a punishment for the sins of their forefathers and outrightly accused God of being unjust. However, God sent His prophet to remind them that each person is to be accountable for his or her own deeds before God, and that to attain salvation requires a daily pilgrimage towards God. So, no one can rely on their past good deeds as sufficient for salvation just as no sinner who repents and leaves their past behind would be rejected by God. He desires the unceasing faithfulness of the just as much as He desires the repentance of the sinner. That means there is an equal opportunity for all before God because He is merciful. And this is what Christ amplifies in the gospel in today’s parable reminding us that God’s mercy can be extended even to those whom society considers as the worst sinners if they repent of their sins.
 
Today’s parable is known in history as one of the three Parables of Rejection which are the last three parables of Christ before His paschal mystery. And today’s parable being the first and shortest of the melancholy three is the simple story of the two imperfect sons. They are both imperfect though one is better, but the two however represent us. The first son said no to the father but later went and did the father’s will. He is a type for sinners that represents us when we as sinners encounter Jesus and He transforms our lives. After rejecting God and causing Him so much embarrassment by our sins, when we run to Him and we repent of our sins He pardons us and changes us to become candidates for His kingdom. On the other hand, the second son said yes to the father but refused to go and do the father’s will. He is a type for sinners that represents us too when we are long on words but short on deeds as priests and religious and lay faithful alike. Those moments we say yes to God with our lips but do not correspond it with our actions.
 
Now who was really the good Son since both of them disobeyed their father? The first son who initially objected later repented and did his father’s will while the second son said yes but never did the father’s will. Like the second son, at the beginning of our journey of faith we all say yes to God to reject Satan and sin on the day of baptism but shortly after, some of us fall back embracing the exact things we rejected. In the same way some of us make the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, saying yes to God on our profession and ordination day, but shortly after go on breaking the vows and acting otherwise. Also, when as spouses we promise to be forever faithful to our spouse on our wedding day, but shortly after we begin to lead unfaithful lives, we are the second son just like the politicians who in a like manner make mouthwatering promises to the electorates when seeking their votes, but shortly after victory do not even remember they were voted into those offices. Today Christ invites us all to take stock by asking ourselves how faithful we have been to those vows we made to Him and His people at our baptism to become Christians, at our profession to become religious and consecrated persons, at our ordination to become clerics, at our wedding to become spouses as husband and wife, at our swearing in as politicians to become true leaders and at our professional oaths to serve humanity in truth. If we have fallen short of our commitments, today we are advised to retrace our steps and come back to God so that we do not perish in our sins.
 
Jesus extending to us His mercy today reminds us that in the final analysis, good intentions are not enough, and promises do not count unless they are performed. It is only by deeds that we can prove what we truly are and not just by words. That is why Christ said in Matthew 7:21 ‘not everyone who calls out to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven.’ This is ‘the new way (Acts 9:2)’ as the Church was called in the early centuries. Following Christ therefore is not a question of memorizing the catechism or reciting the ten commandments and scriptural passages without keeping them. Rather it means taking on a new way of life that would also show that you now possess Christ. To help us achieve this St. Paul proposes for us Christ as the model par excellence in our second reading, where he exhorts us to be united in love and live like Christ who said yes to God from the beginning to the end, emptying Himself to be like us and suffering like a slave up to the point of giving up His life for us on the cross. Let us therefore ask ourselves today how obedient are we to God’s commands and how faithful are we to the vows and promises we have made before Him and His people? What kinds of deeds are we showing in our lives to the people around us? Can people see Christ in our actions? Do we serve God sincerely with our hearts and minds or are we only paying Him lip service while our actions are Satanic and evil? Are we doing our own wills using the name of God as a guise or are we actually doing the will of God? If we are still away from God, Christ invites us today to have a change of mind and heart like the repentant tax collectors and prostitutes, and come back to Him and He will show us mercy. For it is because He is merciful that the psalmist addresses Him today thus; Remember your mercy, Lord. May the Merciful Lord grant us the grace of true repentance to come back to Him so that we can receive His mercy. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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