Thursday, September 25, 2014
"Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you."
This Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 (26A), we read the Parable of the Two Sons. It is unique to the Gospel of Matthew is probably one of the most easily understandable of all the parables of Jesus. It describes a situation we can all identify with and one that we surely all have experienced. Some call this four verse parable the Better of Two Bad Sons. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with family, friends and church groups.
The parable was one of three parables Christ spoke in His last days. They are known in history as the Parables of Rejection. This day's Gospel was the first and shortest of the melancholy three. This Sunday we are also treated to one of the most beautiful passages about Jesus in the entire Bible. It is found in the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians.
Obedience and Disobedience
The two sons in the parable this weekend have some promise. Their father has a vineyard of his own, something for them to inherit. The vineyard needs some work, and the father tells both to go and do it. One says no, but then eventually goes. The other says he'll go work, but never shows up. Number one son, who said no to his father but who went and did what his father wanted, is a type for sinners. Number two son, who says yes to the father but does not deliver, is a stand-in for the religious authorities of the day who were long on words but short on deeds.
Father Cusick explains to us that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law, and commanded the people to do as the Pharisees taught according to the law. But he also warned against following their example. We should be like the first son and say "yes" just as he did, but we must also be as the second son who obeyed the father, though at first he refused. Talk is cheap, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio tells us. It’s easy to make a promise. But keeping a promise is an entirely different matter, as this Sunday’s gospel makes abundantly clear.
It is about obedience and disobedience, says Fr. Alex McAllister SDS. It is about compliance and rebellion, about changing one’s mind in a positive way and changing one’s mind in a negative way. It is fundamentally about the choices we make in life. And it is about conversion and repentance, as Fr. John J. Ludvik explains.
A Warning Against Self-deception
Certainly in the parable, the father wants the best for both his sons. But the one never does the will of the father. Jesus uses the parable to describe human relations with God. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says it offers a lesson for those who claim to be Christian, but do not worship as Christians or live the Christian life; compared to those who come to Christ later but never claimed to be righteous.
It is clearly a warning against self-deception. Fr. Orly Sapuay, M.S. reminds us how easy it is for the spiritual person to build up for themselves over the years the firm belief that they are doing God's will. They have an interior sense of this due to their prayer life, their personal spiritual activities, spiritual readings and so forth. Yet Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. says all these become problematic when one's relationship with God is reduced primarily to observing rituals and keeping rules. It is a problem when we fail to see that we haven't changed the way we deal with our fellow men. When we remain judgmental, merciless, impatient gossips who look down on others as less than ourselves.
A Call To Work the Vineyard
We are called to work in the Father's vineyard. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says the vineyard is your house and my house. The vineyard is your life and my life. The vineyard is that place where others are reaching out to us, seeking the love of Christ in us. And if we want motivation, as well as encouragement, solace in love, participation in the Spirit, compassion, and mercy, St. Paul says to look at what Christ did (Second Reading). Then you will not act out of selfishness, but will serve others humbly, as he did. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says this is the ultimate motivation in Christianity.
In the final roundup, Fr. James Gilhooley points out that it is only by deeds that we prove what we are. It is only by actions that we establish whether we are genuine or faux. Fr. Phil Bloom says what counts is not the image that others perceive. What counts is our final state before God. So we turn to Sunday's Psalm for hope that we may grow in the true faith that Jesus speaks about in the Gospel because, as James Starke concludes, God remembers us not for our sins but in kindness.
Mass, Prayer, Sin & Guilt
A reader asks a very serious question from a reader: "What's the point of going to Mass if we’re in the state of sin?" And Fr. John Zuhlsdorf offers a great pastoral response you all must see. Meanwhile, related to this, Msgr. Charles Pope tries to navigate one of the trickier terrains in the moral world - the experience of guilt. It is understood here as a kind of sorrow for sin. On the one hand there is an appropriate sorrow for sin we ought to experience. Yet there are also types of guilt that can set up, either from our flesh or from the devil which are self destructive and inauthentic. Which bring us to the sin of Gossip. Here's a reflection on one of the more under-rated categories of sin: the sins of speech.
The Carmelite sisters are known as the Navy SEALs of spiritual warfare. Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D. offers tips for improving your prayer experiences. And she starts by suggesting we not use the expression “prayer experiences” at all. Hit the delete button on that one. Prayer isn’t just “an experience.” It is so much more. The good sister explains in more detail.
Why Virginity Matters
Jennifer Fulwiler was glancing at a list of saints’ feast days that fall during this week, when she this listed for September 23: St. Thecla, Virgin and Martyr. As she reflected on virginity and what it means in today's world, she began to realize that it is possible to live a fulfilling life without having sex. She also deduced that denying this fact alone is responsible for some of the worst scourges that plague the modern world: abortion, contraception, even homosexual acts.
And speaking of the topic of homosexuality, Bishop James D. Conley introduces Courage, an apostolate that was founded in 1980 in New York and is now serving the Church in about 100 U.S. dioceses and in many countries overseas. “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) about homosexuality is the work of Courage. And it begins by acknowledging that the truth of human sexuality can be known and lived. It trusts that the Church, which assures us that Christ has risen from the dead, also guides us in understanding the complex and controversial question of homosexuality.
Meanwhile, Kevin Lowry tackles Catholicism in the workplace and how tough it can be at times. However, with hardship always comes opportunity. He offers "3 Ways to Shock Your Co-Workers" using stealth workplace evangelization. They won't even know what hit them.
Life, Married Love and Becoming a Dad
Breast cancer survivor Pat Gohn touches on the exquisite and excruciating Life of Married Love. She notes how loving someone until death is as hard as it is beautiful. It is sacrifice, but also a well of deep, refreshing joy.
Matthew Archbold talks about how miserable men can be when their wives are pregnant because present for the conception, they're then faced with nine months of absolutely no specific responsibility. And then it happens. He describes the experience in "How I Became a Dad."
Someone’s out to get your teens — and Barbara Curtis say they mean business. A special PBS Frontline report named them “The Merchants of Cool” in their in-depth look at the aggressive marketing used to control how American teens spend their money. We look at how to "Consumer-proof your kids."
Finally, here's something for those who have lost their jobs. It's "10 things to do if you have just lost your job."
Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Why Don't you Read the Bible?
FEATURED BLOG: A Reflection on the Sin of Gossip
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus nos habla de poner en practica su Palabra
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