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Homilies, 2004–2005, Cycle-A

 

Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year 2005

 

 

This month has been another difficult month for our nation

as millions of people have been evacuated from

their homes, thousands have died,

and homes, businesses and infrastructures have been lost

in the wake of the destructive paths of Hurricanes

Katrina and Rita.

 

Our hearts go out to our sisters and brothers in need

and all those who mourn the loss of loved ones

and those who are struck down by the loss of

security, a home and livelihood.

 

Yet, in the midst of so much destruction and loss,

there is to be found signs of hope found in the countless

acts of kindness, generosity, and compassion evidenced

in the midst of so much disaster and ruin.

 

I think of the thousands of un-named firefighters, police,

medical personnel, rescue workers,

members of the national guard,

and others who risk their lives for the welfare

and safety of others.

 

I think of the story I heard on National Public Radio

of the Congregation of Women Religious

in New Orleans who staff a nursing home for

the elderly and the infirm.

These courageous women remained at the nursing home

with their residents throughout the hurricane.

They did not abandon them.

They carried their residents to the second floor when their

nursing facility began to flood

and held their residents in their arms throughout the storm.

 

These examples of our fellow citizens, our sisters and brothers,

and so many others who have responded

to those in need in the wake of the recent hurricanes

stand as important witnesses for us,

especially in light of our gospel.

 

Today’s gospel from Matthew asks us to reflect upon

Jesus’ call to each of us to follow him,

and, more importantly, our response to Jesus’ call.

 

Jesus offers us the parable of the father who asks his two sons

to go out and work in his vineyard,

the vineyard of God’s reign.

 

The first son, who rudely tells his father

that he doesn’t feel like working,

but then does work after all,

stands for the tax collectors and prostitutes.

 

- The daily life of the tax collectors (those who the Jews despised for taking money from them and giving it to an alien power) and the prostitutes (those considered
immoral and often sold their services to the Roman soldiers)

(They) seemed to be saying “No” to God,

but when they heard John preach about conversion,

they changed their minds and lifestyle.

 

The second son, on the other hand, tells the father

what he wants to hear and does nothing,

or far worse, turns to iniquity and does not do what his father asks.

- Jesus intends for the second son to represent the

Temple hierarchy and other leaders

who look as though they are doing God’s will,

worshiping in the Temple and keeping up appearances;

but they refused to adhere to John’s call to work in the vineyard of the Lord.

 

Jesus, of course, is asking the Temple leaders and each one

of us if we are just keeping up appearances

or are we truly following the will of God in our lives?

 

How are we responding to God’s call?

Most likely, we each embody both sons in Jesus’ parable.

On our best days, we truly do make every effort to

listen to God and respond to his call,

and on our worst days we often fall deaf to the Lord’s

call in our lives.

 

The good news is that our loving God is always calling us

to himself; he is always calling us to conversion....

Jesus always offers us the opportunity to change-for-the-better, to make a new start.

If we listen to Jesus calling to us,

we can hear him offering to us what the first son

in the gospel received: a chance to change our minds

and follow Christ more nearly in our lives.

 

In order to listen and faithfully respond

to God’s call in our lives,

St. Paul tells us the way we are to follow.

We are to model our lives after Christ’s

self-giving example.

 

Paul tells us to “Put on Christ”,

that is, put on the attitude of Christ

by offering ourselves as a gift to others.

 

Paul captures the “attitude of Christ” by quoting

to the Philippians what scripture scholars

argue to be a very early liturgical hymn

(that even predates Paul).

 

This hymn describes for us Christ Jesus’

self-emptying/self-giving as a response to

being loved by the Father and loving us.

The Son of God offers himself to us as a saving

self-gift.

 

God creates us each in his image and likeness.

For Christians, the image of God is Jesus.

We are called to live the life of Christ,

to put on Christ,

offering ourselves in love for others.

 

What strikes us about those who risked their lives

for the sake of others in the wake of the

hurricanes,

should be that they model what it means to be

Christs for our world.

 

Through baptism and Eucharist

it is WE who are to be transformed to become Christ

for one another,

and a sign to the world of Christ’s presence

in our midst.

Christ’s holy word and his Eucharist are the food

that makes that change/transformation

for the better possible.

 

There are small opportunities to choose to follow

Christ placed before us each and every day.

Strengthened by God’s holy word and this Eucharist,

may we have the strength and the courage to say

“Yes” today and everyday to Christ in our lives.

 


Copyright © 2007 St. Ignatius.