26th Sunday of OT year A 2014:
We hear some interesting words from Jesus today. He is trying to convince the chief priests that conversion is necessary for salvation. It can hardly be doubted that the point of Jesus’ parable is that it doesn’t so much matter how you start out, but how you finish that is important. But, one thing I find really interesting is that we only hear two choices, and neither choice is perfect.
First, there is the son who says he will not do his Father’s will, but ends up doing it. Second, there is the son who agrees, but ends up not doing his Father’s will. Clearly it is better to end up doing the Father’s will. But, there is no option of a son who agrees to his Father’s will and does his Father’s will. In fact, we know that the only Son who both agrees with the Father’s will and carries it out is indeed Jesus Christ himself. Remember how he says at the end of his life: not my will, but yours be done. The rest of us clearly fall into one of the other groups.
I can certainly speak for myself in that I more often end up in the second category. I mean, I know what is right, I know what God wants me to do, but I don’t always live up to that calling. I don’t always treat others with love and respect, I don’t always say or do the right thing. Every day I tell God that I want to do his will, but then I don’t quite get there. I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Jesus tells us that our actions are more important than our words. It might seem like a high bar that he is setting for us. How do we get our actions to better correspond with our words, our beliefs?
I think St. Paul had this kind of situation in mind when he was writing to the Philippians today. His solution: have in you’re the same attitude that was in Christ. Though Jesus was in the form of God he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at; rather, he emptied himself. The key is to have the same attitude as Christ. We need the heart of Christ, the mind of Christ. We need to humbly acknowledge that we are not perfect, that we are sinners. But, even though we are sinners, Christ calls us to follow him. He doesn’t call us simply to say nice things. But, he is calling us to do his Father’s will.
We have a great teacher in humility. We look here to Christ on this altar. Right here he continues to humbly empty himself, pouring himself out for our sustenance. Right here we see Jesus. We learn from him what it means to say these words: not my will, but yours be done.