26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Jean-Frankcy Guerrier, SJ
The readings invite us to develop sincere and authentic relationships with God in words and actions. Actions that demonstrate God’s love and care of all human beings.
As Christians we are called to do God’s will not only by saying in words that we are followers of Christ, but more importantly by practicing justice and righteousness. If we do not put concrete actions to our words, they remain in superficiality, in empty rites. Today, we are called to participate in the construction of a just society, where everyone can live with dignity of sons and daughters of God.
As we have read in the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel communicates the word of the Lord to the people of Israel. A people with whom Yahweh had made a covenant and given his precepts and commands. This people who swore faithfulness to Yahweh, in many situations has not been faithful. As God’s chosen people, the behaviors of the Israelites did not respond to God’s desire for them. They did not stand for the cause of the poor; they did not practice justice and righteousness and they were worshiping other gods. Although they were God’s chosen people, their transgressions made them move away from God.
Therefore, with the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, God wants to create with all men and women one people, His people. Through Jesus Christ, we receive the grace to be called “the people of God” by receiving one baptism in the Holy Spirit. By our belonging to God’s people, God makes a personal invitation to each one of us to participate in the proclamation of His Kingdom by words and actions, to love and serve Him in all things. For this reason, in the second reading, the apostle Paul exhorts the Philippians to adopt the example of Jesus. St. Paul knew the communities he had preached; he knew their strengths and their weaknesses. It is very likely that relationships among the Philippians would not be as good as it should be. We all know that pride, arrogance and the pursuit of one’s own interest over that of others, make good relations between people difficult and alienate us from one another. When one ceases to be the center of interest, and is able to look to the other, then one is capable of proper interpersonal relationships. That is why Paul insists that the Philippians should not act out of envy, but that they should allow themselves to be guided by humility; as they should work for the common good of all. They should be united.
A perfect example of humility is Jesus. The Son of God who became man so that he can show us how to be true sons and daughters of God. In the Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits), invites us to adopt the same attitude of Christ. In the third
degree of humility, Saint Ignatius of Loyola invites us to ask for the grace of desiring poverty, dishonor, and even be a fool for God, since Christ was. This attitude is critical for our journey towards eternity because it expressed a desire to be like Christ. Like Him, we are invited to reach out to the migrants and the refugees in our society, and like Pope Francis to defend them and to advocate for a decent life for them.
Being sons and daughters of God is an invitation to imitate Jesus and to enter into a loving communion with the Trinity. This communion is necessary for a fraternal communion between each other and with the environment, God’s creation. In this case, St. Ignatius of Loyola invites us to seek and find God in all things. In each human being, in the poor, in the migrants and the marginalized and in the whole universe. For Ignatius, we say no to God’s will when we practice injustice or when we destroy the common home. That is why he invites us to love and serve God in all things. To love God means to respond to his invitation to contribute to his plan of redemption and salvation of the world and of mankind. To protect the environment and to fight against the climate change. To say an authentic yes to God’s invitation, to serve him by words and actions.
In today’s gospel, we see how The Parable of the Two Sons exemplifies the two attitudes of man regarding God’s invitation.
Matthew gives us the context regarding who were there when Jesus told the parable. Jesus addresses the priests and the elders of the people, that is, the representatives of official Judaism, those who knew most about the Scriptures, those who guided others in the interpretation of the Scriptures, and those who in most cases considered themselves to be part of God’s chosen people and therefore of a special category that made them different from others.
Those who were called the chosen people rejected God’s invitation to love and serve the marginalized because they rejected the Son of God. On the contrary, those who were considered sinners, the prostitutes are those who welcome the Son of God and accept His invitation. They turned away from their sins and where saved. They believe in the son of man and are welcomed into the Kingdom of God.
The parable of the two sons invites us, brothers, and sisters to examine ourselves so that our religion, our worship is not empty; that our faith is not a dead faith, without works that spring from love, which gives life. Again, this parable invites us to seek and find God’s will in all things. Sometimes it is necessary not to get caught up in precepts and rules that make us protect our ego without serving God through others.
United in the same spirit of communion, let us, therefore, brothers and sisters, ask for the grace of a compassionate heart, so that we could always love and serve God in all things. We should
always ask the Lord to give us enough humility so that from our situation as people with limitations, we could become better Christians. We should ask these graces with sincerity and humility of heart. As we ask for these graces, let us continue to remember the people we love, those who are suffering from Covid-19 and other diseases, those who are alone, we pray for them so that they can find someone to comfort and help them in their needs.
Students, as you just started the new academic year, pray God so that your learning process might be oriented to the greater glory of God and the salvation of humanity