26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A)
Well, this seems to be one of the few parables Jesus told that needs no explanation. It’s pretty clear that we are being called to do the will of the Father; to be obedient to the will of God. And those who are successful in doing the will of God will find a kingdom of everlasting joy waiting for them when they finish this life and move on to the next. Jesus, of course, is our best example of someone who has perfectly done the will of the Father. Paul calls us today to have this “same attitude that is also in Jesus Christ.” who became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Obedience is the virtue that enables us to direct our freedom in ways which are responsive to what God requires and enables. We might not think it in our culture of individualism, but obedience is intimately linked to freedom. This obedience to God shouldn’t be considered some sort of inhibition or limiting force to our freedom. It’d be entirely wrong to think that the persons who are most free are those who do not believe at all and that we go in a descending scale of freedom until we meet the Catholic person. We believe that the reverse is true. We believe that knowing what God has established for the fulfillment of man is a freeing principle, not a principle of enslavement. In other words, the more we know about God’s will for us, the more fulfilled we are as human persons. We are obedient to many things throughout our lives, some good, some bad, and most of the time we don’t even give it any thought. But, the true object of obedience is not laws, or human authorities or social structures. The true object of obedience is God. No human word or institution can take the place of what God requires.
So, since obedience is directed only to God, the challenge we have in living out our day-to-day lives is to determine which claims of obedience, coming from a wide range of legitimate authorities over us, can be integrated into our own obedience to God. It’s a process of discernment, of discerning the will of God. But we can’t really talk about being obedient in a virtuous way as a believer until we have done the necessary discerning that can allow us to give a somewhat confident answer to the question, “What is God requiring and enabling me to be and do?” There aren’t too many decisions that we make in our lives, if any, where this shouldn’t be a primary question. What is God requiring of me to be and do, today, tomorrow, or in any given situation.”
This process of discernment requires five things:
Firstand foremost discernment requiresprayer: Discernment begins with, is sustained by, and is followed by prayer. So an active prayer life is a must in discerning the will of God.
Secondly, we have to gather all the information we can, from every source available, about whatever it is we are deciding upon. And if it’s a matter of faith or morals we have to give a lot of weight to what the Church teaches on the matter. As Catholics, we accept that Jesus committed to his disciples his own power saying,”As the Father has sent me so I also send you...” and “ Whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.” We believe that this power transmitted to his disciples was meant to endure in the teaching office of the Church and now resides in the College of Bishops under the presiding direction of the successor of Peter, that is, the Pope. We must be properly informed.
Third,there’s Confirmation: we can list advantages and disadvantages of each choice. Then decide, what rings true for me? Make a tentative choice and live with it for a while before making a final decision. Does it still “ring true” for me. When I sit with this decision in prayer, does it please, delight or bring me peace?
TheFourth step in the discernment process is Internal Confirmation: Do we experience consolation or desolation? Do we feel closer to God or pulled away from God? glad or gloomy? Confused or peaceful? If we experience symptoms of desolation, we should rethink our decision.
TheFifth step is External Confirmation: What are the fruits of our decision? Does it build up the community or tear it apart?
To be obedient to God requires that we develop a sense of the presence of God and a loving union with God. This demands, above all, a disciplined life of prayer. If we were consciously united to God, we’d be able to exercise our freedom and love in making social judgements and choices out of this union with God. Nothing can quite substitute for a nurtured (and the key word is nurtured) sensitivity to divine presence and a sensitivity to divine promptings. It is important before we begin this process of discernment that we have also given some thought to the manner in which we respond to God in faith.
Revelation and faith are God’s gift of Himself to us. It is the basic, transformative model of relationships with others. We cannot receive the gift of another without being transformed. So this gift of faith, that is, God giving of Himself, always has the character of being both an invitationto know God and a command for transformation.
—It’s a gift that is also a responsibilty. In other words, “If I accept it - I gotta live up to it!”
Many of the best gifts come with a burden of resposibilty attached.
A child - is a wonderful gift/ with a burden of responsibility.
A marriage also - a wonderful gift/ but there’s that burden of responsibilty.
So, if we express that faith, that “I believe” that we’ll recite in the creed that follows this homily, what is our response to that faith? This is the relationship between faith and works. This is where ethics and morality come into the picture. Morality is our response to God’s gift of himself through revelation. The big question is are we obedient to God’s call and his command. This obedient response is what gives true meaning to our lives. These 7 questions of faith might help us determine if we are being obedient to God’s call; to God’s gift of himself. We should ask ourselves this:
1) What am I spending and being spent for?
2) What commands and receives my best time, my best energy?
3) What causes, dreams, goals, or institutions am I pouring out my life for?
4) As I live my life, what power or powers do I fear or dread?
5) To what or whom am I really committed in life? In death?
6) With whom or what groups do I share my most sacred and private hopes for life and the lives of those I love?
7) What are those most sacred hopes, those most compelling goals and purposes in my life?
By answering these questions a person should be able to begin to get in touch with what is really meaningful in his or her life and help with a conversion that seeks to better respond to God’s call and His commands.