(Sunday XXVI OT — A) Obeying the Father

Jesus’ parable of the two sons were directed to those who were so fixated to their idea of God’s will that they missed it being expressed in the voice of the Baptist. We too can be so fixated on an aspect of Catholicism or Christianity that we end up being disobedient to the will of God. Read about the parable of the two sons in the articles listed below and use the following for your reflection.

1. The religion of the Old Testament as well as that of the New is about obedience to God’s will. In the Old Testament, that will was expressed in the Torah and in the prophets, of which the chief priests, elders and the scribes were like watchmen who guaranteed that it be kept. In the New Testament, God’s will is given full and definite expression in Christ, the new Moses and Son of David. In the parable of the two sons, Jesus points out the importance of repentance, the call that the Baptist had sounded before him.

Reflect. Obedience to the will of God requires one’s readiness to “change the mind” when a change in direction called for. John’s invitation was towards the “new thing” being inaugurated in Christ. We can get fixed on an idea of “righteousness” . But righteousness is a “way” — the Lord’s way — that invites to movement and change. The chief priests and elders were fixed on an idea of righteousness. On-going conversion, moving along the way of righteousness, is based on the idea that one cannot stop at a particular stage in the pilgrimage and become satisfied with the point at which one has arrived.

Have you become a satisfied Christian? Have you become like the chief priests and elders who were so fixated to their idea of God’s will that they refused to do it when it came to them expressed through John the Baptist?

Read this prayer called “Disturb Me, Lord” and realize that a satisfied Christian is not a Christian at all

Disturb me Lord to see the plight of millions, 
Homeless, starving and fighting for life each day. 
Disturb me Lord when I complain about my lack 
When I have no idea what lack really is!

Lord, disturb me, so that I can see past myself 
And venture forth being Your hands and feet. 
Help me to dream big dreams only You can bring to pass.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst for the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity,
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future in strength, courage, hope and love.

~~~Sir Francis Drake

2. A spiritual fixation is an obsessive attachment to something — even to an idea of God or Christ — that obstructs one’s growth towards Christian maturity. Spiritual masters like those of the Carmelite school tell us that spiritual growth is like climbing a mountain: one cannot afford to stop in mid-climb, otherwise one simply slides downwards. Augustine speaks of the Christian maturity in terms of a journey: one cannot tarry along the way and be distracted, otherwise one would lose sight of the journey and its goal. This would be tantamount to a refusal to follow the one who beckons us forward to our true homeland and be with the Father.

Reflect. John the Baptist called for repentance and pointed to Jesus. The invitation was unheeded by those who had a fixation on what they considered to be the expressions of God’s will. The Church is like John the Baptist when it continues to call our attention to the new ways by which the Lord makes His presence felt in human events. Are you one of those Christians who have become fixated to just one image of Christianity (e.g. going to Mass on Sunday)? Has your fixation kept you tied up to a childish way of regarding God (e.g. the policeman God who checks to see you are not being naughty or the vendo-machine God who gives you what you want after you’ve inserted your coin)?

3. In the parable of the two sons, obedience to the father is shown not by the word, but by deeds.

Reflect: Every year during Easter, we renew our baptismal vows. Negatively, we express it through a three-fold rejection of Satan and his kingdom. Positively, we express it through the recitation of the Apostles’ Creed as an allegiance to the Word of God proclaimed by the apostles, handed down through apostolic succession, and made present in, with and through the Church. Our allegiance to the Word of God itself is morally expressed in the way we fulfill the two-fold commandment of love (Matthew 22:34-40).

Have your yearly renewal of baptismal vows borne fruits of repentance and expressed in deeds of charity? How would you assess the way you have been living out your baptismal vows since Easter?

Prove yourselves to be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).


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