Promise and Commitment

10-01-2017Weekly ReflectionFather Tony Okolo, CSSp

Ezekiel’s prophesy in the first reading teaches us the possibility of pardon through repentance forone’s accumulated evils. God glories in forgiving those who turn back to him, and he ardently desires the salvation of all, but also the risk of losing all the good one has done by returning to doing evil. In the second reading, Paul writing to Philippians encouraged them to be united andshow their love for each other through humility and service. Christ, who is divine, became man inorder to suffer and die for our salvation. No act of humility on our part can ever rival the humiliation of Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross. Christ willingly took on the role of a servant and allowed himself to be crucified for our sake even though he was innocent of any sin. Then in the gospel of Matthew, the parable teaches us that promises can never take the place ofperformance, and fine words are never a substitute for fine deeds.

In our life journey some people find it hard to make any promises but once they do, they keep to itand remain steadfast, while some others are easily given to making promises but find it hard tokeep to the commitment. Most of us find ourselves in either of one of these. Where do you belong?Are you among those who find it hard to make any promise or are you among those who make apromise but never keep it.

One other message Jesus gives us in this parable is that salvation is not for those who are perfectbut for those who are truly repentant. Redemption is still very much available for those who refused God’s call at the first time. We are assured by the prophet Ezekiel in the first reading that ifwe change our minds and shift the focus from evil and self, to God and the ways of goodness, thenwe shall live. However, Ezekiel also issued a warning that refusing to turn toward God will result indeath.

Therefore, the parable of the two sons in Matthew’s gospel also offers both warning and encouragement to those whose initial course in life may be summed up as a “No!” to God’s overtures of love or a detour from God’s grace. The example of the second son invites us to strikeout in a new direction. Despite his refusal to do his father’s bidding, the second son regretted hisdecision and exercised his prerogative to change his mind; as a result, he found himself in blessedaccord with his father’s will. However, the eldest son did not match his decision “I am on my way,sir” with his deeds (“but he never went”). His center of gravity had not shifted; he refused tochange his mind, he failed his father. It is an invitation to match our Christian profession of faith with our actions. That is why James in his letter asks, “What does it profit, my brethren, if a mansays he has faith but has not works. Can his faith save him? (James 2:14 and 15)

Those who followed Jesus had taken a different path as a result of Jesus’ ministry. The prostitutes and tax collectors, to whom Jesus referred, had repented of their sins and came backinto union with the will of the Father. They acknowledged their status as sinners and resolvedto sin no more. Instead of arrogantly putting their own will and agenda to the forefront, theyobeyed the will of the Father through Jesus. Thus, they had moved farther on the path of salvation,even if, as Jesus implies in the parable, they weren’t necessarily enthusiastic about it at first.

We pray for the grace of a true repentance of heart in following Christ with our good actions, deedsand practices in our Christian faith. Happy Sunday to you all as I wish you and your families God’sblessings and love.