Word To Life
Sunday Scripture Readings, Sept. 25, 2011
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
September 25, Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Cycle A Readings:
1) Ezekiel 18:25-28
Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14
2) Philippians 2:1-11
Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32
Two men, two mission trips to the same place.
Jack and James were both successful, mid-career businessmen, financially well-heeled. They belonged to the same church.
Jack was the first to travel with a parish group on a mission to Latin America. He was "blown away" by the Third World conditions that he experienced for the first time. His eyes were opened to the lived reality of poverty and oppression.
On his last day there, he broke down in sobs. Overwhelmed by the unbelievable need of the people surrounding him, he promised always to remember their struggle. He was changed, he said, and vowed to live differently and work to help these people and their community.
Several years later, James visited the same poor village. He was just as incredulous as Jack to see the difficult circumstances that the people there faced every day.
"I have a hard time getting my head around it," he remarked. "But I just don't know what can be done to help."
However, when he got home, James immediately began making plans for his next trip to the mission. He plotted useful roles that he could play in projects to help develop the village. He contributed more to the aid fund and started looking for new financial resources. He reached out to his personal network to find people who could provide technical expertise.
Jack, on the other hand, seemed to leave the whole experience behind, once the emotion had passed. Although still a faithful churchgoer, Jack soon became disengaged from the mission project and continued a lavish personal lifestyle.
The mission coordinator was disappointed. "[Jack] seemed so moved by what he saw at the time, but it hasn't seemed to change his life," he noted.
The distinct responses of these two men to a graced moment of invitation to serve God mirrors Jesus' parable in this weekend's Gospel: Two men are asked to "work in the vineyard." One, saying the right thing, agrees to go, but fails to act on his promise. The other isn't so quick to obey, but realizes his responsibility and chooses to serve his father.
Jesus' message is that he doesn't want lip service or empty promises. He wants conversion of heart and commitment to God and the service of his people.
What competing interests have caused you to fail to act on promises that you made to serve God? How can you strengthen your commitment to Jesus' Gospel?
SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:
"If he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life" (Ezekiel 18:27).
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