BY THEIR FRUITS YOU SHALL KNOW THEM (Matt 7:20)
⏰Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
📖Ezek 18:25-28; Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (R.6a); Phil 2:1-11; Matt 21:28-32
🎤BY THEIR FRUITS YOU SHALL KNOW THEM (Matt 7:20)
It is said that actions speaks louder than voice. That is the major focus of our Liturgy today. The Gospel brings out this point clearer in that parable of the two sons of a man, both of whom he asked to go into his vineyard to work. While the Gospel seems to pay more attention on the action, the First and Second Readings help us to understand that the action that is meant is good action.
To understand the context and how that Gospel relates to us, we need to go back to the beginning of the chapter, Matthew 21. Jesus had just entered Jerusalem and this brought him into confrontation with the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders of the people. While he entered, the common people welcomed him and hailed him as the king but the leaders of the people resented him, even after seeing the wonderful things that he has done (cf. Matt 21:15-16). After cleansing the temple, he entered the temple a second time and began to teach. Ironically, the so-called leaders were not interested in the content of his teaching because they knew that he was teaching the truth. Instead, they went to question him on where he got the authority to teach.
That attitude of the leaders towards Jesus plays out in different ways among us today. Many of us are more comfortable with bearing the name Christians without making effort to become Christians in spirit and truth (see John 4:23); more comfortable with titles in the Church without making effort to live holy lives. Some of us have become like a truck that broke down at the centre of the road, refusing to move and blocking others from moving. They would tell you that they know so much about the Church and the Scriptures that they had nothing more to learn.
The prophet Ezekiel tells us in the First Reading that we must be ready to bear the consequences of our action. It is not how far but how well. It is not about how you began but how you end. You might have been a highway robber but end up winning paradise in the end (see Luke 23:43). On the other hand, you might have been baptised by early missionaries and might be celebrating diamond jubilee of your Christianity and still perish in hell. Your action determines where you go.
Jesus says in Matt 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me: Lord! Lord! will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” In other words, it is not those who go to Mass daily, receive Holy Communion always, belong to most pious societies in the Church, carry the Holy Bible under the arm round the town, pray rosary always along the road and in the Church that will enter the Kingdom of God. All those attitudes are very good and should be encouraged in every Christian as they help us to fan into flame the spiritual gifts that we received (2Tim 1:6). But all those would be fruitless if they do not make us better Christians.
Note that the failure of those leaders of Israel was built on pride (cf. Luke 18:11-12). The failure of most of us is also built on pride. Remember, pride goes before a fall. St. Paul therefore encourages us to imitate the humility of Jesus who humble himself and took human nature in other to redeem it. We cannot bear good fruit of conversion if we are not humble.
May the Lord grant us the grace of true conversion and the strength to remain steadfast and bear good fruit. Amen.
Peace be with you.