1. What’s Your OPINION? How do you like my Mutton Chops?
2. What is your OPINION of the Punishment that Mankind received because of Adam and Eve’s personal, unrepentant sin that led God to levee His supposedly JUST condemnation on us all. Was this FAIR?
FAIR or NOT, it’s a Reality. Yet reality teaches we LIVE in a time of HOPE, because Scripture teaches us God has PROFFERED an option, where we are assured of God’s MERCY, FORGIVENESS and RESTORATION. That option is to live in HUMILITY and REPENTANCE. Living this way, God will bring us out of a life of Exile and move us on to the way of Salvation.
3. Every Generation wants to give their OPINION about God actions. In our first reading we hear from Ezekiel, the Great Prophet/Leader to the Israelites while in Exile in Babylon. The story line today is, the Israelites had been complaining to Ezekiel, that God had HARSHLY judged the nation because of their sins, when He sent them into Exile. They were especially upset, at the fact that God was also PUNISHING them as a Nation and as individuals, for the sins of the people of the past. They felt God should take into account, that some had lived fairly Virtuous lives and were an example to the nation. And their OPINION was this PUNISHMENT by the LORD was UNFAIR!
Ezekiel then preaches that their Exile was only the FIRST step in the punishment. He was there also to prepare them for the immanent and complete destruction of Jerusalem that was to soon come, including their beloved temple. Yet, even with this bad news, he tells the people that all of this should be seen as necessary REDEMPTIVE JUDGEMENT by God.
Ezekiel was tackling the Question of the people: “If a sinner must live with the consequences of his Sins, what is the purpose of repentance?” The answer we hear is one of the most beautiful summaries of ‘Divine Mercy’ in Scripture. “…If you turn from the wickedness you have committed, and do what is right and just, you shall preserve you life.” God’s forgiveness and restoration to fellowship will be given to the HUMBLED and REPENTANT. In the reality of condemnation and punishment, comes a message of HOPE.
4. The 2nd reading from Paul to the Philippians deals with the perfect stance of HUMILITY that is displayed in the Incarnation of Jesus our Lord. “Do nothing out of Selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourself.” Paul is describing for us the HUMBLED life of Jesus that we are called to imitate.
What’s your OPINION? We have Jesus the New Adam and the Adam of the Old Testament. Jesus the New Adam refused to grasp Divinity and Equality with God. He Humbled Himself. “Jesus, though he was in the form of God, he emptied Himself, taking the form of a Slave…even to the point of accepting Death…the ultimate EXILE.” Adam’s sin of Disobedience caused all suffering. He tried to become like God. Which son did the Fathers will?
5. In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to give our OPINION, as He did with the Priests and Elders, in the parable of ‘Which of the two did his Father’s will?”
Jesus was calling out the CHIEF PRIESTS, the SPIRITUAL Leaders of the Israelites, and ELDERS, their CIVIL Leaders on the Sanhedrin, as following in the foot steps of the 2nd Son. While they too said ‘YES’ to God, their actions served only themselves and therefore failed as Shepherds, to lead Israel to righteousness . They are convicted, BECAUSE they didn’t recognize John the Baptist as a righteous prophet of God, just as they were failing to recognize Him as the Messiah.
Jesus then points out, that the Prostitutes and Tax Collectors, Jewish Society outcasts considered to be beyond redemption, are like the FIRST Son. They at first said ‘NO’ to repentance, BUT later in Humility, changed their minds upon hearing John and Jesus. This further implicates the Priests and Elders as failed Shepherds; they didn’t respond to God’s Call to Humility and Repentance even when they saw the Prostitutes or Tax Collectors REPENT.
The truth of the story tells us that the will of the Father demands that ALL sons and daughters perform any task the Father requests in Humility and in Obedience. And when asked to give our opinion, and if it is we who identify with the 2nd Son; to give Jesus the only reasonable and logical answer of ‘First Son’, means that just like the Chief Priests and Elders, were are trapped into personally condemning our selves.
6. What’s your OPINION of yourself then? Is your YES to lead, backed up in your personal and church Family, Neighborhood or work circles, by word and action? Do you attend Mass Faithfully? Do you go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation when necessary. Do the teachings of the Church on Abortion, Gay Marriage, Living Together before Marriage and the use of Contraceptives , receive fair hearing from your ACTIONS and then your LIPS? Does your ‘YES’ get backed up by activity from your Hands, Feet, Back or Pocket Book toward Societies Outcasts and down trodden ?
Your OPINION of my Mutton Chops, while duly noted, is just Human Opinion about my chops. So to you I say..”Thanks for Mutton”. What we need to hear and value, is God’s Divine Opinion of how our soul are looking. We need to VALUE the Opinion that can convict to us in Church teachings, in Scripture, in Prayer or from a trusted Spiritual Confessor.
As Baptized people we all have been asked to go out to the VINEYARD to work? Have we been paying lip service to God’s will with a ‘YES’ and then failing to follow through. Or did we answer ‘NO’ and later repent. Either way we NEED TO KNOW, so we can continue to live Humbly or act to Repent. God’s ways and punishments are FAIR. That’s My OPINION!