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(Sunday XXVI – OT A) Two Sons and Humility

Submitted by on Sunday, 25 September 2011No Comment

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The Two Sons

The parable of the two sons echoes many instances in the Old Testament that involve competition among siblings. We know of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and the sons of Leah. The elders and the chief priests are compared to tax collectors and prostitues — the other sibling — those who are deemed un-saveable. And yet, Jesus says that like the first son, these are the ones who obeyed the voice of God speaking through John the Baptist. The sin of the elders and chief priests is their hardness of heart in not believing the Baptist when they saw how sinners began to repent at his preaching.

God’s Ways are Mercy and Truth

The responsorial psalm is taken from Psalm 25, a lament. It can be read as a prayer of Christ in His members. The psalm begins with the psalmist commending himself to the protection of God. Immediately he makes us aware of enemies that watch so as to gloat over him. Expressing confidence that God will take care of him (3), he asks for guidance (4-5) and mercy for sins committed in the past (6-7). The psalmist then mentions the qualities of God that make him a friend of sinners: good, upright, guiding and teaching the humble, showing His ways which are mercy and truth towards those who honor his covenant, those who fear Him (8-10). The psalmist then enumerates what the Lord does to those who fear Him: he will know what God wants, he and his descendants will prosper,he will be wise (12-14). Between his description of the qualities of God and what He does to His devotees, our psalmist bursts forth in a prayer for forgiveness (11), identifying himself as one waiting for the Lord (15).

Through all these, the Church is invited to make the response: "Remember your mercies O Lord."

The psalm is prayed in response to the first reading, where the prophet speaks favoring those who turn away from their wickedness and are therefore marked out to live. God after all does not wish the death of the sinner.

Humility

God "guides the humble to justice and teaches his ways to the humble" (10). In the second reading, Paul exhorts the Philippians to have the same mind as Christ. Members of the community may fall into a trap where each one competes with the other in the manner of siblings in rivalry. Paul tells them to be like the Lord, not seeking one’s own interests but of the other. Christ’s self-emptying is then used as a theological motivation for having the same mind, united in heart.

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