IS IT MY WAY THAT IS UNFAIR, OR RATHER, ARE YOUR WAYS UNFAIR?
This Sunday's readings give us a lesson in how God's justice and mercy coincide.
In our first reading (Ezekiel 18:25-28)
, the prophet Ezekiel preaches to the Jews in exile in Babylon. His message is one of personal responsibility for one's own actions. Death (spiritually) comes to those who turn from God, but God's mercy and forgiveness will come to those who repent and do the Father's will.
Thus says the LORD: You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!" Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
In our Gospel reading (Matthew 21:28-32)
, Jesus' authority was being questioned by the chief priests and elders. In response, he told the parable of the Two Sons. Jesus clearly likened them to the second son who said "yes" but did not do the Father's will.
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: "What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' He said in reply, 'I will not,' but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, 'but did not go. Which of the two did his father's will?" They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him."
In our Epistle reading (Philippians 2:1-11)
, St. Paul gives us clear examples of how we are to do the Father's will, emulating Jesus' obedience to the Father.
Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.
Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It may be said that each of us has two simple choices. We can say (and do) "yes" or we can say (and do) "no". Justice and Mercy is ours to choose.
- Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017