Sunday, September 28, 2014
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
San Lorenzo Ruiz
1st Reading: Ezekiel 18:25-28
2nd Reading: Philippians 2:1-11
Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32
Jesus went on to say to the chief priests and the elders of the people, “What do you think of this? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said to him: ‘Son, today go and work in my vineyard.’ And the son answered: ‘I don’t want to.’ But later he thought better of it and went. Then the father went to the second and gave him the same command. This son replied: ‘I will go, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what the father wanted?” They answered, “The first.” And Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you: the publicans and the prostitutes are ahead of you on the way to the kingdom of heaven. For John came to show you the way of goodness but you did not believe him, yet the publicans and the prostitutes did. You were witnesses of this, but you neither repented nor believed him.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
Today’s Liturgy of the Word deepens the meaning of the parable of the hired workers (Mt. 20:1-16) where a master paid all laborers equal salaries regardless of the number of hours of service rendered. God’s mercy is dynamic, and is not tied to one’s past performance. This finds support in today’s first reading from Ezekiel 18:25-28. It says that if a righteous man shifts to a sinful life and dies, he is doomed, whereas an evil person, who turns away from his sinful life and dies, will live forever. It sounds unfair but that is how God’s generosity operates (Matthew 20:15). God’s ways are not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8).
The past is not prejudicial to a repentant person. In the parable of the two brothers the disobedient one who later shaped up won the Gospel’s commendation. God evaluates men not the way men evaluate their own kind. The past cannot tie the generous and merciful hands of God. God is results oriented. Like fig trees he is happy enough to find fruits in us on the day of his visitation (Matthew 21:18-22).
People can make this wrong conclusion: If God looks at the ending, conversion can wait till after a generous indulgence in the perquisites that the devil offers. Wrong. Postponing conversion is a dangerous strategy. In the first place we do not know how much time we have. Our life is seventy or eighty for those who are strong (Psalm 90:10). Eighty years pass so quickly, and this verse is not even to be literally understood, for many in fact have died at a tender age.
Even if we still have enough time, we are not computers that can be reformatted anytime in order to delete past inputs. Man is by nature resistant to change. Our past will always have remanent effects on the present. Like eyes accustomed to darkness which must be slowly introduced to the light, a bad person cannot just barge into the halls of morality without traumatizing his system. The trauma can break him down and defeat the very purpose for which the transition from evil to good is made.
If we must move from evil to good the time to make the transition is now. God can wait but time cannot. When the waiting is over, make sure faith is already there. (Luke 18:8). – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.frdan.org.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: God our Father, grant us the grace of repentance so that without delay we may return to you with a firm resolve to do your will through Christ our Lord Amen.
SAINT OF THE DAY: San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint. He was born in the Chinese district of Manila. He was married and had three children. In 1636, while serving as a clerk at Binondo Church, he was falsely accused of murdering a Spaniard. He fled with some missionaries bound for Japan. When the ship reached Okinawa they were arrested. The martyrs were made to swallow pails of water while some soldiers trampled on their belly. They were hanged upside-down inside holes full of filth. Before his martyrdom, Lorenzo said, If I had a thousand lives, I would give all of them to Him.