26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mt 21:28-32)

I am sure that we are all familiar with the proverb which states that “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Another version says that “hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works.” These sayings are thought to have originated with St. Bernard of Clairvaux who wrote that “hell is full of good wishes and desires.”

The Samaritan Woman

The Samaritan Woman

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the chief priests and elders (as well as ourselves) that good intentions are never enough. And promises don’t count unless they are actually performed. Our actions speak loudly and words are whispers of hope. The religious and civil leaders in Jesus’ time spoke a lot about God and, in particular, how God was to be served by a strict observance of the Law. But they did not have the spirit of love, compassion, caring and forgiveness for the weak and vulnerable. They heard the teaching of Jesus but made no effort to carry it out. They had a long tradition of following God’s Law but when they encountered Jesus, the Son of God, they refused to listen.Today’s readings encourage us to learn to accept and grow through our shortcomings.  They command humility when we don’t receive the credit we deserve; they warn against conceit.  They encourage us to level ourselves with others, appreciating their perspectives to better understand their issues and attain a level of compassion not otherwise possible. How much holier would we be if we could consistently and humbly regard others as more important than ourselves?

St. Paul reminds us how Jesus came down to meet us at our level.  He took on our humanity, seeing things from our perspective, warded off human temptations, experienced our vulnerabilities, reasoned with our limited brains, and suffered through bodily pain.

On the other hand, Jesus tells them that the “tax collectors and the prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you.” They certainly were not keeping God’s Law. They had said no to his commandments many times. But when they met Jesus, they experienced a radical transformation in their lives. They listened and they responded. Many of the dregs of society heard the message and changed their lives. They became Christians in action as well as in word.

Two messages can be drawn out from this parable. One, we can never be complacent about our relationship with God. It is possible for any of us at any time to find ourselves falling away from our commitment to Jesus and to his Gospel. And God always accepts us where we are. If we are in union with him, things are well; if we have, by our own choice, become separated from him, he accepts that too. His love and his grace are always available but they can be rejected and spurned. And we can “die in our sin.”

On the other hand, no matter how far we have strayed from God, no matter how sinful we have become, it is never too late to turn back and we can be absolutely sure that a warm, no-questions-asked welcome will be waiting for us.

But everything comes back to saying Yes or No to God. These words are not words we say but things we do. A Yes that is said but is not done is only an evasion.

We cannot just talk the talk, we must walk the talk.

We must decide to obey God all the time in every way. Partial obedience is a euphemism for disobedience. No matter how weak you have been for years, God will always give you the grace to obey. God offers each of us the greatest treasure possible—unending peace, joy, happiness, and life with him in his kingdom. We can lose that treasure if we say no and refuse the grace God offers us to follow in his way of truth and righteousness. We will be rewarded when we say yes through our actions. I pray today that we all will walk the talk towards God’s kingdom.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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