Friday, 26 September 2008

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A

Ezekiel 18:25-28; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32

Four weeks ago, on the 22nd Sunday of the year, we heard Jesus say to Peter: Get behind me, Satan … because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s!

On the 23rd Sunday Jesus shows us how to treat those who do the wrong thing by us in a way that would be according to God’s way of thinking.

On the 24th Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Triumph of the Cross; madness according to the world's way of thinking but for us who believe, the sublime wisdom of God.

Last week, the 25th Sunday, Isaiah cautioned us: Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. … for my thoughts are not your thoughts …. .

Then the Gospel showed us a God who is generous in a way that we, according to our human way of thinking, would think unfair. Once again we see that God’s thoughts are high above our thoughts.

Which brings us to the First Reading today, the 26th Sunday, in which God seems to be defending himself from our human way of thinking which calls him unjust.
Is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust?

Imagine us accusing God of injustice!

In the Second Reading St Paul is pleading with the Philippians: ... be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing that would make me completely happy.

A common mind? Which mind?

In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus...

Well, by now I think you are beginning to see what I’m getting at. The mind of God is indeed higher above us than the heavens. Our ways of thinking are not God’s ways of thinking and the whole of the struggle of Christian discipleship could be summed up as the struggle to begin thinking like God, as St Paul puts it: put on the mind of Christ.

Well, our Gospel today shows us a young man caught in the very act of doing just this. He was asked by his father to spend the day working in the vineyard. His father might just as well have asked him to wash the car, clean up his room, take out the garbage or turn off the television.

The young man was very human but notice he was also very honest. He didn’t like to pretend. He said straight out to his father, 'No! I won’t! I am not going to work in the vineyard. It’s not my turn to wash the car. I didn’t mess up the bedroom. I’ll take out the garbage later, if I don’t forget … and, anyway, I just want to watch this television programme first.'
How human this way of thinking is!

Well, the dad in our Gospel just leaves him to work it out and the young man starts thinking. We are not told what his thought processes were, just that he thought better of it.

He did what Isaiah advised: Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. And so he went off to work in the vineyard.

The prostitutes and the tax collectors did exactly the same thing. They at first said no to God in their lives and lived far away from him. But then, at the sound of Jesus’ words they thought better of it and repented. They sought forgiveness and became disciples of the Lord.

There’s no need to say too much about the other son, or about the chief priests and elders. We are simply told that they refused to think better of it. How sad!

Let me repeat, isn’t our whole Christian life a process of learning to think better of it? … of learning to put on the mind of Christ?

Are you in that process?

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