Love One Another

09-27-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

There is an important message for all of us that applies to our entire life in this weekend’s scripture. We are being advised to not live in the past with any of its negative ways, but to live in the present in a changed and healthy way. Clinging to the past with any of its wrongs or flaws limits us and ultimately can destroy our very being. The courage or valor to change what was wrong to what is right is essential to living a healthy and faithful Christian life. Our scripture this weekend encourages us to change and grow as we need to in life.

The prophet Ezekiel who spoke the message of God during the Babylonian Exile clearly informed the Jewish people that they were responsible for their own actions. He blatantly told them they had failed to accept these responsibilities and always tried to blame their separation from God on other people, namely on their ancestors. They always had excuses for their behavior and never failed to blame their problems on the sinfulness of the many generations before them. Ezekiel boldly challenged them to live in the present time of their lives and take responsibility for their own actions now and also to do what they knew was right regardless of past events.

In our second reading, the Apostle Paul writes to the Philippians to encourage them to live obediently in the present. He notes that the believers in Philippi had a special advantage as they had Jesus as an example. They were able to perceive how fullness in life came to Jesus because he was humble and obedient before God. Paul makes clear that it is Jesus who gave us the example of living God’s law of love—to love one another more than ourselves.

This week Matthew asks again in a different way the question about who would inherit the promises of God. Last week’s Gospel passage told us that we would inherit the Kingdom because of God’s generosity. Now, this week our Gospel parable informs us how we will live with God because of the choices we make and actions we take. This story is of the dad who desired his two sons to work in the field, one said “no,” but later changed his mind and went to the field to work. The other son said he would go but never did. This wonderful story illustrates for us how God calls us to change our lives from saying “no” to saying “yes” by our actions of repentance and change. We realize from the story that in life it is far worse to be the person who says “yes” to God but does nothing. This is like the Christian who says he/she loves God, but our actions in daily life are not worthy of that statement.

We must always remember that God gives us free will to choose. Simply put: we can choose to say “yes,” or we can choose to say “no.” Some of us will say “yes” right away and go to work in the field at once. Others of us say “no,” but sooner or later change our minds and try to live God’s command to love one another. Still others of us say and sometimes even shout “yes” but do nothing. Our words mean nothing because our actions are nothing.

This gift of free will from God reveals his unconditional love for us. This unconditional love of God embraces us and our mistakes with mercy and pardon, yet for our own sake, we need to admit our own wrongdoing and change to the new ways of God.