October 1: Twenty-sixth Week of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm: 25; 2. Philippians 2:1-11; Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32.
With the aid of these readings, we learn how to focus our everyday activities and outlook on life with faith and trust in the revealed message that they contain.
The way forward for Israel, and for us, is mapped out rather dramatically in the words of Ezekiel. For in these verses the prophet’s turn of phrase highlights the choices we make for both good and bad. The outlook is compared to something like life and death. Choosing to do the right things set down by God is therefore presented as a life-giving force. The almost stark presentation here immediately underscores the direction that our lives should be taking. To respond negatively to this advice would be to our detriment.
Paul’s advice to the Philippians operates in similar way to Ezekiel’s. His words are, however, more elaborate and positive. By looking to Christ as the model for all Christians to follow, the apostle steers his audience towards a deeper awareness of a communal life based on love and sacrifice, especially as it might express itself in the world we inhabit. So, by confessing our faith in Christ, we orient ourselves to a right and dutiful human existence.
Another vineyard parable from Matthew, brief as it is, conveys its point quickly and directly. Again, this method of teaching allows for human weakness in the first instance, and the possibility of coming a little later to an enlightened understanding of what we are being called to conform ourselves to. The coming of the kingdom of heaven is happening. It just seems to be taking its time as people accept or reject the invitation to join it.
As always, the Sunday Scriptures offer us insight and inspiration. Today’s texts are, therefore, yet another means of opening us up to the life-giving energy that God puts at our disposal.