Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year A
OUR ACTIONS WILL DETERMINE OUR DESTINY
Ez 18:25-28; Phil 2:1-11; Mt. 21:28-32
I am often asked by people, what will decide our eternal reward or punishment? I always say what they themselves are aware of, our final decision for or against God, our choosing to obey Him gracefully by doing His will or our choosing to go against His will!
God has gifted us with free will, so that we be the ones who choose our eternal destiny. Today’s Scripture passages warn us that it is our final decision for or against God that is most important because we are rewarded or punished according to it. In the first reading, Prophet Ezekiel’s message from the Lord God to Israel answers the objections of those who think it is not fair that God should give such weight to one’s final decision because a person who, after a very long virtuous life, finally chooses sin will be punished, while another, who finally chooses virtue after a life of loose morals, will be rewarded.
The second reading, taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, also affirms the truth that the final choice for God, made by perfect obedience to Him, will be rewarded. Paul emphasizes the fact that, because of Christ’s obedience to God’s will, emptying himself, taking human form and humbling himself by accepting death on a cross, that God the Father exalted Christ, bestowed on him the Name above every other name, and made Jesus the recipient of universal adoration.
In today’s Gospel parable, a man with two sons tells both to go out to work in the vineyard. The first son says he won’t go, but later regrets it and works. The second son says he will go but does not. In each case, it is the final decision that is more important. Jesus says, that repentant tax-collectors and prostitutes, represented by the first son who initially refused to go, will make their way into the Kingdom of God before the chief priests and the elders, represented by the second son in the parable.
This parable underlines the necessity of our responding with a continual “yes” to the saving act of God. Further, this parable teaches us that promises can never take the place of performance, and fine words are never a substitute for fine deeds. In other words, the parable clearly teaches that the Christian Way is followed in performance, not in promise alone, and that the mark of a Christian is obedience, graciously, promptly, and courteously given. That is, we are not supposed to say “yes” to God on Sundays and “no” to God on weekdays. God does not want polite but hypocritical words, for that isn’t obedience at all. “Merciful and quick to forgive,” God tolerates willful, even blasphemous disobedience, provided repentance follows. God remains faithful, always ready to receive repentant sinners. He never abandons us even when we abandon Him. The parable teaches us that there are indeed two conditions for entering the Kingdom of God. One of these is giving up sinful ways. The second condition is believing the words of Jesus, and then acting accordingly. In both cases, or conditions, the emphasis is on the response of the listener to the word of God.
Each one of us is responsible to God for every action, and the just God will punish or reward one according to one’s actions. Let us say “Yes,” to God by doing His will cheerfully and daily. If we have been disobedient to God in our past life, we need to knock at the door of God’s mercy. God can, and will, do for us what, in his mercy. Every morning we must pray for the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit to do God’s will and every night we need to repent of our sins and ask God’s pardon and forgiveness. Let us remember that it is never too late for us to turn back to God, ready to do His will.
Fr. Pascal Robert OFM