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Homily for the Twenty-sixth Sunday, year A.

29 Sep 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Our first reading this morning reminds us of the gospel passage we read a week ago about how some hired servants saw injustice in the landowner’s generosity and complained. In our first reading this morning, the people of Israel saw injustice in some of the decisions of God. For God had thought the Israelites as he teaches us this morning that the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. (Ezekiel 18:20). In other words, the son will not suffer for the father’s iniquities, neither will the father suffer for the son’s iniquities. If a man who had lived a righteous life decides to turn to evil, he will be judged and condemned, his righteous deeds will not be remembered. But if a man who had lived a wicked life decides to turn from evil and live righteously, his wicked deeds will be forgotten and judged righteous.

The people of God saw injustice in this teaching; how could God forget all the good things we have done just because we turned to evil, or how could he forget the wicked man’s evil deeds simply because he turned to good? This is unfair and unjust, they said. But the Lord spoke and asked through the prophet Ezekiel, Is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust?

These are questions we need to answer sincerely. Is God really unjust? David tells us in Psalm 51:4 that God is justified in his sentence and blameless in his judgment; we are the ones that are being unjust, being insensitive to the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation.

In our gospel passage this morning, Jesus re-echoes in the parable of the two sons the need to make a U-turn to the Lord. He says in the parable that a man had two sons, and to the first, he said, My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today. The boy answered, no, I will not go. But he later thought of it and in obedience went as sent. The second boy was also approached and asked to go work in the vineyard, and he immediately answered, Certainly, sir, but disobediently decided not to go. So, Jesus asked the chief priests and the elders of the people, which of the two did the father’s will? They agreed that the first did the will of the father, and so, Jesus said to them, I tell you solemnly, tax collector and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you.

In this parable, he did not approve of cheating, which is closely associated with tax collectors, nor did he approve of prostitution, but points out that these people and many other sinners accept their mistakes in life and turn to God. They realized that they are the ones that are being unjust, not God. But the chief priests and the elders of the people arrogantly swells up with self-righteousness, refusing to see their faults.

Many Christians are in a similar condition today; they are filled with the spirit of self-righteousness and see every other person as sinners. That is not what we need; self-righteousness will not take us anywhere. Like the first son in the parable today, we must have a re-think and do what the Father wants from us. He wants us to acknowledge our weaknesses and sinfulness, to come before his throne of mercy with sincere humility and with contrite hearts. To repent and ask for mercy and forgiveness.

All God wants from us today is to acknowledge our faults in repentance and realize that we are unjust and not God. We answered the Father, certainly sir, at baptism, but have failed to go. It is not too late to have a re-think. That is the message today, to have a re-think and repent.