Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Little Something Extra...Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A God of Second Chances

Today's readings offer a message of hope. Our God is a God of second chances. He welcomes even the most hardened sinner back into His arms as soon as that person repents and opens his or her heart.

In the first reading, God, speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, answers Israel's complaint that His ways are not fair. The Israelites sound like a group of disgruntled children who aren't getting their way. But God reminds them that all people are responsible for their own actions. If virtuous people turn away from good and choose evil, they will suffer the consequences. They will die. On the other hand, if wicked people turn away from their sin and choose good, they will reap the benefits. They will live despite their previous sinfulness.

God is a God of second chances.

In the psalm, the psalmist humbly begs God not to remember his sins and the frailties of his youth. He trusts that God will respond favorably to his plea, for he declares that God will indeed show humble, repentant sinners the way to Him. He will remember their sins no more.

God is a God of second chances.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about two young men. Their father asks them to go and work in the family vineyard. The first says that he will not but later changes his mind and goes anyway. The second agrees to his father's command but does not follow through by actually going to work in the vineyard. Jesus asks His listeners, “Which of these two did his father's will?” The audience correctly answers, “The first.” We might add that the father would have been pleased with the first son's actions although he might have been annoyed by his initial refusal. The father would have given his repentant son a second chance. We might also add that, in the symbolism of the parable, the father represents God.

God is a God of second chances.

As the Gospel ends, Jesus informs his audience of chief priests and elders that the tax collectors and prostitutes who had believed in the message of John the Baptist and repented of their sins would enter the kingdom of heaven before Israel's religious leaders. Tax collectors and prostitutes were the lowest of the low in the Jews' eyes. They were as unclean and sinful as anyone could get. Yet they could enter the kingdom of heaven. They could be in an intimate relationship with God.

God is a God of second chances.

Do you need to ask God to give you a second chance in any areas in your life?

Do you believe that He will?

God is a God of second chances.

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