Change Your Minds!
Last week Jesus told the parable of the day laborers who complained that the wage of the man who worked only one hour was unfair. This week we revisit this sentiment with God’s chosen people complaining that “The Lord’s way is not fair!” I suppose this reoccurrence of theme is “just in case we didn’t get it the first time.” The prophet Ezekiel challenged his listeners—and he challenges us—to decide if it is God’s ways that are unfair, or is it really our ways that are unfair. Gee, let’s see: are we close yet to figuring out whether or not our tax code is fair here in the great U.S. of A?
In the first two readings for today, both Ezekiel and Paul give solutions to our human quagmire of searching for justice and for what is fair. Ezekiel directs the people to “turn from their wickedness;” this will “preserve their lives” and help them to experience true justice. St. Paul instructs Jesus’ followers to “have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus,” and gives a whole long list of ways to acquire this holy correct attitude: “solace in love,” “participation in the Spirit,” having “compassion and mercy,” etc., etc., etc. But in the Gospel, Jesus also gives a direction and a guide for acquiring justice and lasting peace with the greatest challenge of all—CHANGE YOUR MINDS!
Think about it. The first son who said “No, I will not!” but then did as his father had commanded, basically converted. Jesus, like so many prophets, judges, and kings in Israel before him, preached conversion. The difference is, of course, that Jesus offers conversion “through him, with him, and in him.” When we convert in Jesus and return to Holy Communion with him—we are sanctified and redeemed! The gates of heaven are opened to us once again. As a matter of fact, this is what our whole parish life and ministry is all about. As you visit the MINISTRY FAIR downstairs after Mass, just think about how many lives—how many hearts and minds—have been converted more deeply, more profoundly to following Jesus Christ by participation in these ministries. The choice to serve the Lord is always a choice to more closely encounter the Lord and walk in His ways.
Now, there is also a very important element of Jesus’ Good News here that should not be lost on us. Jesus expects that we will learn over a lifetime. Some hard lessons of life we have to learn over, and over, and over again. [Who hasn’t experienced the truth of that?] Typically we ask, “When will I finally learn?” But see, Jesus knows that about us. As he asks us to forgive seventy times seven (unendingly), so he is willing to always forgive us when we are truly contrite—contrite, meaning with true sorrow and firm amendment. In the end, our life speaks a pattern of sincerely returning to the Lord (like the first son in the parable), or a pattern of deciding to wander aimlessly amidst our own human and imperfect goals that will pass and render us unworthy. It is on this that we will be judged. Let us pray for the grace to change our minds—so motivated by our hearts configured to the sacred heart of Christ—when it is just the right thing for a disciple to do.