The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2017 – Cycle A
Ezekiel 18: 25-28; Psalm 25; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32
Are you more like the son who said “No” but eventually did what the father requested or are you more like the son who said “Yes” but in the end ignored dad?
What is our initial and gut response to what God asks of us? How often do we change our minds? The parable of the two sons gives no indication what caused the boys to variously change their minds and not all for the good.
What causes you to change your mind?
…about an issue…your impression and how you think about another person?
Does additional or new information make a difference in changing your mind? I find that information, knowledge, or facts rarely change people or their attitudes. It is amazing how defensive, even stubborn we can be in the face of facts.
What about experience? Does having something happen to us cause us to change are minds more readily? Or finding ourselves in the same position we negatively judged in others? …being angry, shortness of temper, harried and lacking attention in our dealings with other people.
Does knowing someone, a friend, coworker or family member make a difference in changing our minds?
Do you consider a changing of the mind a good or a sign of weakness, a lack of confidence or resolve? How do you respond when another person changes for the good? Do we let them out of the ‘box’ we have put them in? Do people get a second, and third chance in our life?
The heart can be so fickle.
The willingness to change our minds and thus how we live our lives is at the core of the Gospel. Repentance and conversion are simply other terms for “changing our minds”. When Jesus cries out “Repent!” he could just as easily have cried out “Change your mind!” Change your mind about how you treat others. Change your mind about the values you’ve chosen to underlie your life. Change your mind about how you think you should be treated, your presumptions, judgments and condemnation of others.
The scriptures today presume and encourage a change of mind, a change of heart. “But if a person turns – changes their mind – about the sins they have committed and does what is right and just, they shall preserve their life…they shall not die.”
“The son said in reply, “I will not,” but afterwards changed his mind and went.”
God has given us free will, but this freedom is not to do anything we want. True freedom in Christ is to align ourselves with the will of God for us. Choosing to continue to do evil, choosing to remain stubborn and self-righteous in the face of truth, choosing to rebel and be unwilling to carry out what we are asked by God; this is what is unfair. Thus the willingness to changing our minds is a key part of the spiritual journey.
This is want the Sacrament of Reconciliation – confession – is about, changing our minds and in changing our minds, changing how we live. When was the last time you prayed the Sacrament? What keeps us away from the Sacrament? An unwillingness to change? With what attitude do we approach the Sacrament of reconciliation? Do we want to be changed? Do we seek and allow ourselves to be changed by the grace of God offered in all the Sacraments? Are we grateful for the possibility offered in Confession to be changed and molded into Jesus Christ?
Depending on our answers, Jesus’ warning could be just as easily said to us, “tax collectors, traitors, prostitutes, headstrong sons and daughters, the obstinate, are entering the kingdom of God before you”. They believed John the Baptist. Do we believe John when he calls us to repentance? His voice will soon be heard in Advent.
Consider the words of the English poet and theologian Blessed John Henry Newman, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”
Which son are you and I more like?