Faith, Love and Obedience

When I was younger, I dreaded disobeying my parents, my grandmother, my elders, my teachers, and other superiors because of the consequences that go with it. You risk getting spanked, punished by requiring you to stand at the back of the classroom while others are sitting comfortably in their desks, or even asked to stand near the flagpole in the heat of the sun. That’s how we were brought up then, but I think our generation is thankful for the kind of discipline that made us who we are today.

This Sunday we hear the Gospel proclamation (Mt. 21: 28-32)wherein Jesus told the story about a man who had two sons. The man said to the first, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The first said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went.The other said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘ but did not go. Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, “Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Then our Lord went on saying, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before youWhen John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe himbut tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

These words were addressed to the chief priests and elders, the religious leaders at that time. Richly clad in their elaborate robes and attires, they were so full of pride and self-righteousness. They were close-minded and stuck to their own opinions which were already outdated and wrong. Because of these, they were blinded from learning the simple truths that people whom they call “sinners” like the tax collectors and prostitutes were discovering. Harsh words indeed but this is Jesus way of saying that while tax collectors and prostitutes were on the path to holiness, their hardheadedness led these religious leaders astray. They persisted in their disobedience and defiance to God.This may have been so hard for them to accept.

As we learned, love is a choice. Our love for God can be put into action by being obedient to Him and to His Holy Word. Gone are the attitudes of yesteryears when we obey orders because we want to get rewards, or because we want to avoid the negative consequences of disobedience. Sometimes we do it because the authority is legitimate and we have no other choice. But with God whom we cannot see in our day-to-day lives, it demands faith and which is concretized in love. When you grow in intimacy with Jesus, following Him becomes second nature and you see obedience as pure joy despite the challenges that comes your way. We overcome these difficulties because we know the love of God comes with a price, and yet, if we obtain His mercy and grace, Eternal Life will be ours someday.

St. Paul reminds us in the Second Reading (Phil. 2:1-11 or 2: 1-5) that Jesus Christ is the perfect model of obedience,

Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness
and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Today let us reflect on how we are with regards our faith and love for the Lord. Are we obedient to Him? Are we humble to admit our sins and faults before the God?

Lord God, grant us the courage and strength to overcome pride and self-righteousness so that we follow you in humility, love, and obedience.  

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn. 10: 27)

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