Monday 28 July 2014

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Some of us may have been attending Mass and activities in one parish community for years. Some of us seem to prefer to skip from parish to parish, going for Mass and activities as and when we please or where it is convenient to us. Some just go for Mass and do not get involved in any parish activities. There are some too who do not seem to value the Mass, or even being in a parish community, and only come occasionally. Which sort of person could you be?

People come or do not come for Mass and become part of a parish community due to a number of reasons. But whatever the reason may be, we need to ask ourselves honestly: Is our parish community united as brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we part of a parish community, or are we lone rangers (or "Sdn. Bhd" or "Pte. Ltd."), only intending to fulfil our Sunday obligation and nothing more? What have you done to be part of a parish community? Some of us actually don’t feel that we are part of a parish community. Perhaps, some think that the church is just a place to go and pray and attend Mass. Perhaps, some don’t have a real sense of belonging, coming and going like a "rolling stone." The Church becomes like a hypermarket or supermarket or convenience store where we come only to get what we need. When the church does not satisfy our needs, we complain, become angry, pout, feel frustrated, or feel resentment. But is that what being Church all about: for me, myself and I?

St. Paul in today's reading reminds us: "If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, So that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus." We call ourselves Christians or Catholics, but that is not enough. We come to church, but that is not enough. We say we are brothers and sisters in Christ, but that is not enough. We need to show and mean what we say through our actions. If we are only concerned about our own needs, then how can we say we are united as brothers and sisters in Christ?

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us a parable of two sons: one says he would go to the vineyard but only says this just to sound good and to please his father but did not go. The other said he would not go, but decided to go in the end. This parable reminds us that we need to walk to talk, talk is cheap, action is what matters. We say that we are one community, but just saying it is not enough. We need to prove it through our actions and by making effort to remain united as brothers and sisters in Christ. This means we must come out of our comfort zone; we must stop thinking only about ourselves and start thinking about others, about the community; we must learn to love happily, joyfully, willingly and meaningfully. It is only when we do our part and work together as one, united family, that we could truly become one family, brothers and sisters in Christ.

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