Reflection on 26th Sunday: 27th September 2020

Lord, make me know your ways
Lord, teach me your paths. Make me walk in your truth.

Psalm 24

In this context to ‘walk’ means to live each day. We have all joined the psalmist many times in our search for help to live each day guided by divine truth. [1] When we ask God to reveal His direction for us do we want to know Him, or do we just want a formula for life? When we seek God just for a formula, too often we miss knowing Him. Yes, He wants our obedience. But a beautiful thing about the Hebrew word we translate into ‘obey’ in English is that it is the same word in Hebrew for ‘hear’. It’s a hearing that brings response. What God wants is relationship. He wants us to hear Him, know Him, and respond. [2]

“Which of the two did the will of his father?” The question of ‘doing God’s will’ ultimately brings us to a place of metanoia (i.e. change of mind and heart). This change of heart can take us in different directions, as can be seen in the decisions the two sons made. True metanoia is not about escaping the circumstances of our life but about engaging in those circumstances in a new and different way – God’s way. So how do we discover what is ours to do? First, we must go through a process of discernment. ‘Christian discernment is not the same as decision making. Reaching a decision can be straightforward: we consider our goals and options and then we choose the action that meets our goals most effectively. Discernment, on the other hand, is about listening and responding to that place within us where our deepest desires align with God’s desire. As discerning people, we sift through our impulses, motives, and options to discover which ones lead us closer to divine love and compassion for ourselves and other people and which ones lead us further away. [3]

“This discernment process can go hand-in-hand with an experience of aloneness and finding ourselves lost, struggling to hold the paradox of the reality of great love and great suffering. But: ‘Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.’ [4] In surrendering fully to being lost you will discover that, in addition to not knowing how to get where you had wanted to go, you are no longer so sure of the ultimate rightness of that goal. By trusting your unknowing, your old standards of progress dissolve and you become aware of new standards, those that come not from your mind or other people, but from the depths of your soul, revealing your life purpose : to be a visible expression of both the image and the likeness of God. [5]

[1]Website : Theology of work.org [2]Website: Christianity.com
[3] Henri Nouwen [4] David Wagoner [5] Richard Rohr

Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders: “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”