Scripture: Lectionary # 137. 26th Sunday, A Cycle. Ezekiel 18:25-28.
Psalm 125: 4-5. 6-7.8-9: Matthew 21:28-32
Mindsets are hard to change. In Scripture this change is called a metanoia:
a change of mind, repentance, turning about, conversion. Our readings touch
at the heart of this change of mindset and habits, opinions, and judgments.
Our first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel shows us that the change has to
took place first in me as an individual. We learn from Ezekiel for the
first time in the Bible the challenge of personal responsibility in our
ethical and moral lives. We are accountable and responsible for our
judgments and decisions toward the good and our avoidance of the bad; often
our sinfulness is due to our own choices and these are what judge us before
God. We cannot blame others for our sins even though we sometimes say that
this or that trait is just part of what we inherited. Ezekiel says no to
this type of thinking. Our ancestors are not responsible for our behavior;
we ourselves have to take full responsibility for the good and bad that we
Metanoia involves our turning back to the Lord when we have sinned. It
involves a complete turn around and a change of our mindset about our pet
failings and sins. Our own examination of our behavior at the end of the
day and admitting to the Lord where we have failed is part of this metanoia
or change of heart and mind. This also involves discernment which helps us
to progress in the deeper relationship we are called to have with God.
Personal responsibility is a great challenge and gift from God. When we are
truly responsible to God we make progress in the spiritual life.
The Psalm and the earliest of hymns to Christ give us the example of how to
be truly cooperative and responsible in our callings. Prayer, humility,
and obedience are at the heart of the Psalm and the Hymn. Jesus gives us
the greatest example in his total emptying of himself as God’s servant (the
word in Greek actually means slave). He gives all including his life and
therefore God raises him to glory .We just bow in love and admiration as we
say through the Spirit “at the name of Jesus every knee must bend and we
must confess (proclaim) JESUS IS LORD. We pray for such a change of mind
that we may be one with Christ in his mindset and his relationship to God.
Jesus speaks to us in another parable about the vineyard (kingdom). Two
sons are involved and are asked to help in the vineyard. The first remains
obstinate in his “no” to the owner of the vineyard; while the second says
“no” but then changes his mind (metanoia) and then goes to work in the
vineyard. Historically this may refer in Matthew to the Jews and the
Gentiles respectively. However, for the believer today it is a lesson in
making the right choice and saying “yes” to the Lord of the vineyard. We
often are a bit of both of these sons but probably more like the second
with our many times of need for repentance (metanoia). We all have a long
way to go before our “yes” becomes one with the “yes” of Jesus admirably
described in our hymn from Philippians. We already have heard of how with
Jesus it is never “no” but always “yes”. He learned this in his home at
Nazareth and gave us the example in returning home with Mary and Joseph and
was obedient to them and grew in wisdom and grace. Here the good traits of
his parents Mary and Joseph were assimilated and taken into his heart. He
is the Alpha, the beginning, and the Omega, the end when it comes to saying
Yes to God and always being face to face with God. Amen.