Homily Twenty-siixth Sunday Year A God's expectations

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Homily for the Twenty-sixth Sunday Year A

Reading 1. This reading is a follow-up to last Sunday’s first reading. Last Sunday we heard, “My thoughts are not your thoughts; my plans are not your plans.” Today, Ezekiel expresses our response and God’s words to us. From the human perspective, God’s ways seem unfair, because we judge from a self-focus, subjective viewpoint.

God, through Ezekiel, shows the truth of God’s ways. If a virtuous man commits sin and dies unrepentant, he shall surely die away from God. On the other hand, if a wicked person repents and turns back to the Lord and dies, he shall live with the Lord. From a human perspective, this seems unfair. But not from God’s. The focus is not the fairness but the mercy of God.

The presumption is that the first person remained in sin, in spite of the grace of mercy calling him to repentance. He died in his sin and remained in that state eternally. The second person received the grace of repentance, acted on it and died in that grace. That is his state for eternally.

The nature of sin deserves punishment. That is justice and rightness. But the gift and grace of God is mercy for those who truly repent. We cannot begin to comprehend the reality of sin in relationship to God. Nor can we comprehend the reality of mercy in the face of our sinfulness. If God would render strict justice, there is no hope for any of us. Without his loving mercy his justice would be everlasting damnation and alienation.

Reading 2. To begin to glimpse into the mercy of God—the overwhelming love of God for us--, all we have to do is reflect on the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the God-Man. If God would have just became man, that would have been more than enough to show his love and mercy for us, sinners. But he chose to embrace death on the cross, the cruelest punishment for wrongdoing, even though he had not done any wrong.   He took upon himself our sins out of love for us. He gave his life for our life.

In this reading, Paul tells us to have the same attitude.  What does that mean? Do nothing out of selfishness or vainglory, but humble yourself, thinking of other’s needs before our own. Sin centers around  one’s desires, pleasures and wants; love seeks the needs of others first.

Gospel.  Jesus gives us two basic words which lead to eternal life or eternal death: yes and no.  He shows that it is not merely saying the words which count but living them. The parable of the two brothers focuses on the reality of repenting and turning away from what was wrong and doing what is right, what is the will of God. Jesus identified that the great sin was not the first no or the lie, but the insincere yes with no intention of doing what is right. Applying it to those around him, Jesus indicates that the greater sin was to see others repenting and returning to the Lord but still, because of the hardness of one’s heart or the false self-righteousness, remaining in sin.

The most important moments of our life are when we come into a personal, intentional relationship with God through his grace and when we die in relationship to God through his grace. All we do in between is to ensure that we respond to that last moment of grace, to die in relationship.  Even if we sin in between as horrible as that is, if we return to the Lord and die in his love, those are not remembered.

God’s mercy is a given because of who God is, not because we have a right to his mercy. But when a person does not respond to this gift of mercy but chooses instead to remain in sin with some false expectation that God’s mercy will be there when and if the person becomes read to change, is really an affront to the mercy of God.  How long can we live in sin, while externally trying to maintain a relationship with God? God is looking for the sincere heart not the foolish heart that is not willing to turn away from sin but wants the blessings of God anyway.

Where are we saying “yes” to God but not meaning it which in reality is saying “no”? Where are saying “no”, but on hearing his word, we experience the grace to repent, changing our “no” to “yes”.

 

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