Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
September 28, A.D. 2008
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
Philippians 2:1-11 or 2:1-5
A reflection on today's Scripture:
Perhaps you've heard the old saying:
A wise man changes his mind sometimes;
a fool, never!
It's a great response to give when someone says to you, "But you said a month ago. . . ."
In this Sunday's readings, God is giving us advice on when to change our minds, and when not to. If we're pretty well secure in habits of virtue, then it's not a good idea to give in to the persuasions of friends who call us "old-fashioned" or foolish for following the teachings of our parents and childhood religion classes—and act contrary to our principles.
To change because of fear of losing face or being the butt of ridicule could risk God's displeasure, loss of grace, and even loss of eternal happiness. As the old wisdom warns, why risk losing heaven for a few hours of the wrong kind of pleasure?
There's another kind of change discussed in the readings. And that's the kind of change that may be defined as conversion—from sinful ways to virtuous ones. That's the kind of change that won the approval of Jesus in the Gospel.
The first son in the parable is the one who said "no" to his father's request. He was ready to disobey the father, risking his displeasure and even punishment. Then, (wisely), he began to feel guilty. He decided it wouldn't kill him to cut short a good time with his friends to work for his father.
Let's hope that it was really love that made him change his mind. But even if it was just shame, and maybe a little fear of the consequences of his refusal, he did change his mind. If his friends were real friends, they more than likely respected him for his decision.
How different was the behavior of the second son who said "yes" to his father, but then never followed through. He just wanted to look good, and to avoid his father's disappointment and anger. He was quite possibly a hypocrite, one who had no intention at all of helping in the vineyard.
No one likes a hypocrite, not even the hypocrite himself. Of course, he may just have been a weakling, of whom it is said, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." His problem was loving himself and his own pleasure more than the Father.
How do we know when to change our minds and when not to?
The second reading gives us sound advice: "Do nothing out of selfishness; rather, have that mind in you which is in Christ Jesus who humbled himself even to the point of death."
To change one's mind is often humbling, especially if we risk the ridicule of worldly friends or even worldly family members. But isn't it far better than to stubbornly keep to the road that will eventually send us over a cliff?
Both presidential candidates this year have changed the major theme of their campaigns. Just the words evoke strong emotional reactions from people. For many, it brings resistance, because they like things the way they are.
This year, because of the condition of our economy and the drawn-out war, people welcome the idea of change, because we assume change will be for the better. Of course, our country will not change unless people adjust their values. It flows from the inside of our hearts to the outside of our living.
On the spiritual level, we all need to change. St. Paul urges his beloved Philippians to get rid of selfishness, and work for the needs of others besides themselves. He counsels them to find "solace in love," to be guided by the Spirit, to grow in compassion and mercy, and to think always of others as more important than themselves. What an agenda!
But if they constantly strive to grow in humility, then they will achieve the goal of a true Christian. "Have in you the same attitude which is in Christ Jesus" is the way St. Paul sums it all up.
If from our attachment to personal pleasure, we have said "no" too many times, will we decide to change, and finally decide to respond to what our loving Father is asking of us?
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore |
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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