Sep 30, 2023
(Ez.18:25-28; Ps.25:4-9; Phil.2:1-11; Mt.21:28-32)
“Tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.”
Why? How can it be that such sinners gain such privilege, such grace? Is it for their sins? Shall we all become as they? We should be like them, but not in sin – in repentance. For it is because they have “turned away from all [the] sins that [they] committed” that they are saved; it is because they are “tax collectors and prostitutes” no more. And so we are all called to turn away from the sin which each of us surely has.
David sings beautifully of this in our psalm: “The sins of my youth and my frailty remember not,” as he begs the Lord for His kindness. For all that we have done in our ignorance and our weakness we should seek the Lord’s mercy, for He assures us throughout our readings that “He shows sinners the way” when they come humbly before Him.
When the first son in Jesus’ parable responds to his father’s request for him to work in the vineyard, “I will not,” what does this son do but sin against his father? – just as each of us sins against our heavenly Father when we turn from His will to blindly follow our own. But what did the son show when he “afterwards changed his mind and went” but his contrition and repentance at his insubordination, thus illustrating the manner in which our consciences should lead us from our own disobedience? And as Jesus makes clear, it was this son who “did his father’s will” and so will be blessed by him.
Our reading from Ezekiel makes this theme of turning from sin and finding blessing even clearer. It states in certain terms of the wicked man that “if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.” With such assurance, why should we delay our own conversion, which must be effected day to day?
St. Paul presents the attitude we must have before others and God in order to find the Lord’s grace. He states: “Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,” and then gives the clear example of the most humble of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness.” He so “humbled Himself” that He became “obedient even unto death, death on a cross.” And so should we be proud? Should we harden ourselves in our sin, or rather turn and empty ourselves of all that is not of Him? The salvation repentance finds is indicated also in the fact that, because of Jesus’ humility, “God exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name.” So let us not hesitate to join the tax collectors and prostitutes among us who bend the knee before Him; let our “tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” and we shall know His reward.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Where's My Brother?" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, turning away from all our sins
and humbling ourselves before you,
let us but do your holy will.
YHWH, help us to turn from our sins and do your holy will. May we be obedient as your Son, who gave His life to save others. Let all souls repent of their wickedness and walk in His way, that all might find salvation in His Name.
If we could but be humble before you, LORD; if we could but admit our failings, our selfishness and pride, our blindness to your call for our lives… then we would be blessed by you and become your faithful sons. Break our hardened hearts that we might love, that we might look upon you who are love itself.
O let us be empty, LORD, of all we would possess, of all that we would grasp with our own hands. Let us indeed be blessed to recognize our sinfulness and find your mercy and forgiveness. You but want for us to turn to you that you might embrace us as your own. May your compassion be known in our hearts this day.