Reflection: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Ez. 18:25-28; Phil. 2:1-11; Mt. 21:28-32
In the reading from the profit Ezekiel, we are told by God himself that if a man “turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserved his life.” Conversion means turning away from sin and turning towards God, a double motion of leaving behind something evil and taking on another which is the good. The wicked usually thinks only of himself and his own interests. The wicked, therefore, in doing what is right and just according to St. Paul, must begin “looking out not for his own interest but also for those of others.” And this is what Jesus had done. He did not look at his position as Son, but at our interest; he left his throne and came to be incarnate in the womb of Mother Mary, to teach us the way back to the Father, and to suffer and die for us, that we all may share in the glory of his resurrection. When Jesus said “yes” to the Father’s plan for our redemption, it did not remain just a word, he put everything into action, he implemented the plan of the Father to the last detail so that his last word on the cross was “it is accomplished.” That is why the Father “bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.”
In the Gospel, I learn that conversion requires of me to acknowledge that I have sinned and that I must repent and ask forgiveness from God. I need to be redeemed and, therefore, I need Jesus my redeemer. If I do not acknowledge sin in me, then there is nothing to repent about, nothing to be forgiven and I don’t need Jesus. This was what happened to “the chief priests and elders of the people.” They thought they were ‘righteous and holy’ for they were the teachers of the Law and, therefore, need not to repent nor change anything in their lives. When John the Baptist came preaching repentance, they laughed at him even contradicted him. So now when Jesus came they opposed him in every way they could. They had no room for repentance and conversion in their heart. On the other hand, the publicans and harlots knew they were sinners and in need of repentance and conversion. They positively responded to John the Baptist, and accepted his baptism of repentance. When John pointed to Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” they obeyed and followed Jesus. John told them, “He must increase, I must decrease.” Thus, the sinners entered the Kingdom early in the ministry of Jesus. They listened attentively to his teachings, praised God for his miracles, and opened their hearts to his message of salvation. These were among the three thousand baptized on Pentecost Day. Up to today, however, the ruling class of the Jews refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah. They still await the coming of the Messiah. Some ten years ago, a leading Rabbi declared that Jesus is the awaited Messiah, but the whole rabbinic school refused. Am I repentant? Am I converted?