Fr Vincent's reflections on the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
We all want to go to Heaven. Jesus wants to know what are we doing about it today?
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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
O God, who manifest your almighty power
above all by pardoning and showing mercy,
bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us
and make those hastening to attain your promises
heirs to the treasures of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along. The Gospel today is Matthew 21:28-32.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
“I want to go to Heaven; I just don’t want to go right now!” I would imagine that most people would agree with that statement – even I would! But that can lead us to think that Heaven is a distant reality. Thus, we put off our plans for Heaven in exchange for dealing just with the day-to-day matters of life. Then, all of a sudden, our future catches us by surprise, and we ask, “How did I get here?”
The Opening Prayer of the Mass today refers to us as “heirs to the treasures of Heaven,” and that we are “hastening” toward that promise! So, we need to give Heaven some serious thought. Also, the Gospel confirms that it is not so far off. Jesus, addressing the Jewish religious leaders, tells them: “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you,” because they ignored the warnings of John the Baptist to repent. We might need to heed the same warning! Please note that Jesus uses the present tense, “are entering;” it is a here-and-now activity, and not something far in the future.
Thus, the question for you and me: “what am I doing today to hasten my entry into Heaven?” Please also note, the word hasten does not mean “speeding up” my ultimate entry into Heaven (i.e., death), so much as “actively moving” in that direction. So, seriously, what am I doing?
I might spend time in prayer – wonderful. But if my prayer is all about earthly concerns, am I focused on my total union with God, or just expecting God to make my earthly life a temporary heaven? Is my prayer about building a personal and intimate relationship with God so that I can hear Him in my mind and heart so that His will replaces my own? Asking God to fix my life, or even fix the lives of the people around me, can still keep me more important than God. Asking God to help me listen so that I know His will and can make choices to do His will is more about “hastening” toward Heaven and actively entering into His Kingdom, even before I leave earth.
I might be trying to do more good than bad so I don’t end up going to hell – equally wonderful. But “staying out of hell” is still more focused on me rather than on making God the center of my life! My dad used to say, “if you are busy doing good, you won’t have time to do bad.” I add: “trying not to do bad things, doesn’t mean I’m doing good things.” To do good, we must plan to do good; that’s what my dad meant. And as Christians, that means doing good for others and not just for myself. This means I am actively thinking about making the lives of other people better. I want to share the blessings God has given me so that others are just as generously blessed.
So, if I am spending my prayer time seeking to listen to God and learn His will. And, if I am busy planning and doing good things for other people, then the worries and concerns of this life will fall away from our minds and hearts. We really will have heard the warning of John the Baptist, to repent of a me-centered, earth-centered life, and be ready to welcome Jesus into our minds and hearts. We will have begun to live the Gospel preached by Jesus, to love others as Jesus has loved us. Heaven will not be just some distant, future hope, but a real part of my daily vision of life – united with God now, and doing His will now – so that I truly am hastening toward that promised inheritance.
So you see, seriously thinking about Heaven is a way to find peace and joy now, because it makes everything I do in this world all about that everlasting life, and not just about a day-to-day existence that rarely satisfies. God bless!
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.