26th Sunday year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY, TO GOD AND EACHOTHER.
Ezekiel 18:25-28. Psalm:24:4-9, St.Paul to the Philippians 2:1-11, Gospel Matthew 21:28-32
Today’s Gospel points out the difference between talking the talk, and walking the walk. It tells us that what we do is more a test of what we are, than anything we say. So, this is exciting stuff; why not make yourself some Tea of Coffee, and lash out with a nice Doughnut, even though this is your third one for the day. eh eh
In order for us to enter deeply into the Gospel, let’s dive into the First Reading from the Prophet Ezekiel. Notice his name and the spelling? His name is a very important one, because it has el as part of it; so his name bears an important element of the Lord God; it means “may el strengthen”. Now we do need to keep this in mind as we read what the Prophet says, as he speaks the word of God, because his name always has a bearing on what the Lord God is delivering through him.
Therefore in this short first reading, we see the strength of the Lord God’s truth! Ezekiel, speaking the word to Israel has to correct a misunderstanding among God’s people…in other words; it is the Lord God’s deep mercy which constantly receives back the wayward child. In other words, the Lord God break’s His own Law by receiving back his unfaithful Bride. (Let’s keep that marriage relationship in mind as we enter into God’s Word; the Lord God is the Bridegroom and we, His people are the Bride. It was the Bridegroom who proposed to His Bride, Food for thought, eh? That being the case, let’s look at the text message given in the Antiphon of the Responsorial Psalm………Remember your mercies, O Lord. What a ‘community response’ is that to the first reading? My goodness, as we let that response enter into us, it is really us who should be praying….May we always remember your mercies, O Lord. The Lord God does not forget!
‘I will never forget you my people, I have carved you on the palm of my hand’, says the Lord.
But let’s not go away too quickly from that fantastic word remember! Let’s check out the root derivative of this word….. re means, bring together, or gather; member also comes from Latin meaning a limb a branch. So, as we put that word together, we get: bring back together as one, but Biblically speaking it means even more than that; it means that the recalling to mind makes present the salvific action initiated by the Lord God. Makes present! It is a real presence!!!! When do we ‘make present’ the saving action of the Lord Jesus? You got it; at the Eucharist!
So, keeping all that in mind, try praying the Psalm, slowly and reflectively, and then when you have done that…just glide…just be with The Word, coast, like you would if you put the car into neutral……..now, let the ‘prayer’ spontaneously pray in you! That’s right; let the ‘prayer’ pray in you. It won’t be many words, but take note of the words…then coast again……you are in the midst of Meditative Prayer; howszat? It may not be satisfying at first, because in is in our DNA to use plenty of words to impress and get the message over……not the case in Meditative Prayer….it is about a state of being not the recitation of words…..saying words in our prayer is another kind of important prayer……the prayer of Intercession, praise and thanksgiving or contrition.
Now, let’s move onto the Second Reading. Let’s pause on the sentence….’ In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus:’ what does that really mean? How can we be like-minded with Christ? Here are some hints….Think of the vine and the branches…..pruning time…….being, re grafted to the vine…..it’s a bit like remembering isn’t it? You might like to think more about that….but there is more to it……when we really and truly love someone, we unconsciously take on some of their characteristics; the same applies with Christ. When we deeply ponder God’s love for us in Jesus and live it and breathe it, we put on the mind of Christ!
The next part of the Second Reading is said by Biblical experts to be part of an ancient Hymn to Christ; a magnificent reflection of the Incarnate Son of God. OK, let’s get into the Gospel………
The parable of the two sons is a good example of doing what you say and saying what you mean, and sticking to it. I am sure that you have come across lots of instances where someone have said to you that they will do this or that, and in the final outcome, they do not come up with the goods. In short, you might say to yourself, “why did I rely on what they said in the first place?’ In our everyday lives we come across people either in business or in our relationships that are quick to make a promise, but often fail to carry it out.
For example, you might go looking to buy a lounge suite, and the very one you want is not in stock. You are then told that it will take two weeks to come from the warehouse. You are also told by the Salesperson that you will get a telephone call when it arrives. After two weeks you do not hear from the Furniture shop, so you give them a call, only to hear that it will be another two weeks, and so on. When this happens, it can be devastating and very frustrating, and it confirms our doubts in the first place. On the other hand, we can always make excuses for the person who thinks twice, and finally comes up with the goods, because they have arrived at a truth, even though they may have been a little cautious at first.
The Good news today calls for immediate action. Jesus puts before the two sons an idea; we know that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. There is no scarcity of ideas, but there can be a real scarcity of goodwill to put those ideas into practice. The Christian message is intended to ignite us into action. The best way to avoid doing something is to talk about it at length! Jesus wants decisions rather than discussions. There is such a thing as a moment of grace…when that time comes; a stirring within us gives us a choice…now or never!
When we reflect on the two sons in today’s Gospel, let’s ask ourselves, how do I see myself relative to each of them? I may find a little bit of each in me, and that is not bad. The idea is that I continue to renew my commitment to Jesus, and I continue to open my heart to the fullness of his message. In striving to do this within the difficulties of daily life, progress is made. Mistakes and excuses, once recognized by us, can offer us the graced opportunity to receive the abundance of God’s mercy and forgiveness, and become living editions of God’s truth!
PRAYER TOGETHER AS A FAMILY
(Someone in the Family might like to be the Leader, and the others could take a prayer each….it is always good to keep the window open for spontaneous prayers from the family. Some precious symbols are also good to enable everyone to know that this is a ‘sacred’ time…e.g. like a Lighted Candle, next to an open Bible, and a Crucifix)
LEADER: Instructed and encouraged by the word of God, we confidently make our petitions.
1. For the strength to persevere in fulfilling our baptismal promises, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
2. For the willingness to forgive even the deliberate offences we suffer from those we love, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
3. For the wisdom to refrain from imputing motives behind the actions of others, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
4. For an understanding of those who do not share our religious beliefs, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
5. For an appreciation of the gift of faith, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
LEADER: Lord, as we continue this celebration of the Eucharist, open our hearts and minds to your Spirit and to the needs of one another. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fr Kevin Walsh
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