Sunday, 25 September 2011

God leads us in the right way...

This week just a very quick note, as I left writing the reflection a bit to late... hopefully I get a chance to write a bit a longer post in the coming week; I intend to follow up on my reflection on my vocation, especially now all is 'back to normal' and classes have started.

I guess that although there are possibly multiple themes in this Sunday's Gospel, what stands out is the contrast on the response to God's call between the officials and the people. The man in the parable, with two sons, asks both sons to do some work in the vineyard. Whereas the first doesn't feel like it and voices this, he goes anyway after reflection and does the fathers will. The second however gives an affirmative answer, but does not go.
Jesus is applying the parable to the chief priest and the elders of the people, saying that they externally vocalize the law, but are not acting according what they preach. There is a clear connection here with the  time Jesus said 'practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice' (Mat 23:3 RSV).

There has to be a link between the encounter with the Word of God and our inner dispositions. With this I mean that an encounter with Jesus, or with His teaching, should result in a change in how we live our lives. Jesus said in the Gospel that  the tax collectors and prostitutes make their way into the kingdom of heaven as they believed the preaching of Saint John the Baptist. They took in what Saint John said, and subsequently it changed their lives.

But it is important to realize that this is not in an authoritative way. It is not because we are given a new set of rules to which to adhere. Our lives do not change because we are forced by some authority. Even though this might be the impression some have regarding the observances the Church puts before us, this is not the Christian message. St. Paul says 'I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God' (Gal 2:19 RSV). By the encounter with the living Word, we encounter not just a set of rules but a person, and by opening our hearts to this person we start to realize what real freedom is. Through a better understanding of the teaching of Jesus we start living according to this, and this automatically changes our lives. We start to see the truth in the teachings, and don't need to be told anymore what to do because we automatically want to do it.

So, as in the parable, when we encounter 'true teaching', and accept it, we will automatically follow the teaching because it makes sense and puts us on the road to happiness. It is only when we close our hearts to the true teaching, and instead try to find freedom in a place where it does not exist, we find the teaching intrusive and oppressive. The chief priests and elders were not prepared to change their ways, and therefore were not prepared to accept the new teaching Jesus put before them.

Finally, when we encounter some observances given to us by Jesus which do not seem to agree how we would like to do something, then it is time for us, as the first son, to reflect and discover that following Jesus' ways is actually what really will lead us to happiness.

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