Obedience to God’s Will
Readings: 1st: Ez 18:25-28; Ps: 24:4-9; 2nd: Phil 1:1-11; Gos: Mt 21:28-32
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
This Sunday, the Church draws our attention in a most special way to the importance of obedience to God. There is a popular saying that “obedience is the first law in heaven.” It is obedience that will help us to be like Christ, who obeyed His Father unto death.
In our first reading, God responded to Israel’s accusation that he was unjust, because he allowed them to be subdued by their enemies. He condemns their attitude of disobedience. This was Israel’s case throughout their history. Due to their pride, and disobedience, they suffered slavery and deportation to Egypt, Persia, and to Assyria.
However, when they realized returned to God in obedience, He restores them. Hence, God reminds them that: “When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin because of this he dies of the evil that he himself committed.” In order words, renouncing the path of integrity is disobedience. Its consequence is death.
God is always giving us time and a new opportunity. If we return to the part of integrity through obedience to His will, we shall be restored to life. In order words, disobedience brings alienation from God. This is equally spiritual death. On the other hand, obedience draws us closer to God.
In the second reading, Christ is presented to us as the epitome and model of obedience to the will of God. However, Paul first reminds us of what God wants from us as a community. He says: “…Be united in your convictions and in your love…God does not want competition among you, no conceit…instead, everyone must be self-effacing. Always consider the other better than…” He concludes: “In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus…”
In what way or sense are we to be the same as Christ? Simple! We are to be the same as Christ in obedience and humility. In other words, we can only be true Christians in obedience to God’s will. His will includes what Paul enumerates above. That is, to love and respect one another and also to live according to God’s commands.
The gospel of today presents us with yet another popular parable of Jesus. The first son represents the tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners. While the second son represents the Pharisees, Scribes and mere church goers. Looking at the two sons, one will find that both failed their father in one way or the other. The first failed in words: “I will not go!” However, after due reflection, he changed his mind and obeyed his father. Hence, what he failed to do in words he did in action.
The second failed his father both in words and action. First, he made a false promise: “Surely, I will go.” Also, he failed his father by not acting as he promised. This second son represents most of us who pay lip service to God: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mt 15, 18). He represents most of us who during the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and Matrimony, responded “I will to every question, but do not fulfill them.
Faith we know does not consist merely in affirming true doctrine, but also includes something greater and deeper. The hearer is to deny himself and commit his whole life to God in truth, humility and obedience to His will. To be like Christ, we must harmonize the action of the first son, and the word of the second son in order to do God’s will.
Peace be with you all!