By: Br. Noel Corcino [CJM]
Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Ezekiel 18:25-28
“What is your opinion?” is the preliminary question of Jesus to captivate attention of the chief priests, Jewish elders, and the scribes who challenged his power in cleansing the temple and healing those who were seriously ill. These men has been astounded from their previous encounter with which their authority and intellect were questioned over a trivial that demanded a profound answer which only he, as the Son of God could exemplify. And yet, Jesus pursued them by telling the Parable of the Two Sons to trigger introspection and and to assess their own reasoning. In so doing Jesus is trying to tell them to look into the heart of the discussion as intellectuals and highly respected men of the state and filter the essence without impartiality that incriminated his antagonists. It became crucial for them because failure to comment on the second argument, which was presented in a clear and simple analogical discourse, would somehow degrade their reputation as competent judges.
The question of “who is doing the Will of the Father” is actually a begging question. Jesus has presented the argument in analogy based on our daily encounters in family settings, which made it accessible to human understanding. In the parable, apparently the first son, who said he would not go but changes his mind and did go after all, is the one who does the Will of the Father. The priests, scribes, and the elders knew it and at some point of their argument agreed that the first one, even though at first, he disrespected the father by words of refusal, did as father asked him to do.
Nevertheless, it was very hard for the righteous men to conceive to Jesus whose authority is a threat to destabilize the state. They perpetuate their whine pertaining to Jesus’ dining with the tax collector and prostitutes, which is an unforgivable offense against Jewish Law to weaken his impact on the people. It was impossible for the intellectuals of the tribunal of the state to conceive to Jesus because by affirming Jesus leading is tantamount to submitting to his authority of which they been questioning. There is no way to twist their conviction in fact; they looked further for and grave mistakes to convict him. They criticized Jesus and wanted to trap him in his own utterance, but to no avail since Jesus’ wisdom is far beyond the permeation by their greed for power.
The refusal of the scribes, priests, and elders to evaluate and acknowledge the profound intention of Jesus dining with tax collector and prostitutes were contradictory to what they believed to be acts of righteous and thus associated with sinful deeds which are not of God’s will. Furthermore, they think it was Jesus’ way of attracting followers because it somehow glorified the outcasts. Initially they got the essence of the response of the first son in the parable but they failed to bring it to completion, which means, missing the value of repentance, and neglecting the ultimate cause of Jesus dying to the cross.
Spending time with sinners is our sincere and humblest way of bringing them back to the state of grace of God. Staying at a distance and label them as sinners is actually a subtle way of elevating oneself instead of reaching out through the love of God.
It is good to be reminded that an isolated act of a person does not define his/her whole being. And that even the last few seconds of the life of notorious criminals would be precious to God because up to the last tick of the hands of the clock he would want us to turn from our arrogant sinfulness and be back to his embrace as repentant sinners.
We all have the tendency to become righteous. We all have the tendency to set and claim we are somebody with high standards and those who would fail to meet our requirements are deemed unworthy of our time. To talk and associate with them are of waste. We have the tendency of criticizing them like they are no longer capable of doing something good due to the unmet expectation. To refuse bending down to them as they struggle in life defeats our purpose to be instruments to bring them back to God. If only we know how to “dine” with the outcasts and sinners then, like Jesus, we will know their deeper sentiments and eventually win ourselves with them back to the fold of God.
Alas! For us who tend to be self-righteous. We need to think it over a million times and reflect on it unceasingly. If God would have had set a high standard like what we normally do, do you think we can enter the kingdom of heaven? Jesus wants us to purify our reasoning in digging out the deeper meaning of his message. If we are incredulous and obsessed by our intellectual acuity, then we will end up dead by our own stubbornness to translate it into action. If we scrutinize others due to their peculiar ways of life, it is tantamount of bragging how good we are compared to them. Thanks be to God for not counting our countless failures. The more he sees us weak and sinning, the more he becomes decisive to embrace us. Amen
Lord, continue to be patient to our responses to your invitation every day. You have unfolded for us many good things to evaluate the motives of our actions yet we remain naïve and still hold on to our wrong conviction. May your loving presence become our strength to change our ways congruent to the Will of the Father.
In special way, we pray for all Seafarers that they will constantly trust your authority not only to calm the angry seas and keep them safe but also to calm themselves in the midst of a difficult battle of loneliness. May your Holy Spirit hover them as they fulfill your Will by providing the needs of their respective family. Amen.