“Afresh for God”
(Fr Regie, MSP)
A famous German theologian Karl Rahner shared an insight worth considering when he said that we cannot fully understand ourselves apart from God, and we cannot grasp God apart from ourselves. Today we are faced with the revolution of an understanding of a human being disconnected or alien from the thought of God. We think that we can achieve our greatest potential without Him, and exercise our full freedom if we take out from the picture any religious belief charged as myths and as creation of human minds. But what have we observed in our world today? Where are we heading? Are we throwing away the ageless pursuit of the meaning and purpose of our existence?
The three readings for this Sunday invite us to look into God’s invitation for conversion and transformation, a calling for the change of mind and heart, a turning away from self-sufficiency and pride to the ways of God, to the heart of God in humility and obedience. The prophet Ezekiel (first reading- 18:25-28) announced the consequence of turning from evil ways to doing what is right and just, “he shall preserve his life…he shall surely live, he shall not die.” The reality of death is symbolic of physical and spiritual truths about human persons. There’s so many of us today living but do not have life, not animated, like “dead men walking.” We have suffered from meaninglessness and hopelessness. Yet, we insist our ways, we rebel against God, we continue to cling to our own little world. We want our ways.
St. Paul proposed a way of conversion as he wrote to the Philippians (2:1-11) in the second reading. He found that they were living in rivalry, and pride and arrogance are causing them division. He urged them to put on the mind, the attitude of Christ, “Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at.” This is “kenosis,” Jesus’ self-emptying for the sake of love. His way is humility and obedience to the will of the Father. His is downward mobility. However, St. Paul is also quite clear that this is the way of being exalted by God. This is indeed contrary to the culture of the world where unrestrained self-assertion is the way to fame and power even it means indifference to God and to others.
The story of the two sons in the Gospel (Matthew 21:28-32) illustrates the interior dispositions that reflect our attitudes. The first one was asked by his father to go to the vineyard, said yes but did not go. The father did the same to the second son, he said no but afterwards he regretted and he went. This is a vivid image of a change of heart and mind, of conversion, that Jesus referred to the sinners in the parable. This is turning towards the mercy and love of God in Jesus Christ. In a way, we are caught by the love of God and therefore we believe and act on it in the way we live our lives. Conversion takes root deep within, not just saying yes but does not really mean it. God wants our change of hearts more than our beautiful discourse. Conversion is a gift from God, but also a fruit of one’s constant self-examination and with all humility turn towards God for healing and reconciliation. It is an experience of falling afresh for God who gives us new life in Jesus Christ.