Monthly Scripture Reflection

“Is it my way?”
Ezekiel 18:21

In the October readings we continue with situations that sometimes challenge our sense of rightness, of fairness. But Ezekiel in the very first reading has God asking us, “Is it my way that is unfair or rather are not your ways unfair?” It’s time we evaluate our actions to see if they are as virtuous as we assume they are.

Exodus commands us: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien.” “You shall not wrong any widow or orphan” nor be an extortionist. St. Paul tells the Philippians to “do nothing out of selfishness or . . . vainglory.” We are to judge the importance of others in terms of how well they look out for the needs of others. After all, Jesus “emptied himself,” took on our humanity, and “became obedient . . . even to death on a cross” —for us! For our needs. “Have the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.”

The segments we read from St. Matthew’s Gospel give us some ideas on how to examine our actions. Are we like the son who promptly says yes to a request, but somehow never gets around to doing it? Like the vineyard lessees who want to keep the good things for themselves? Like the banquet invitees, too busy with our own affairs? Like the substitute invitee without the proper clothes, who thought he could take advantage of an opportunity without putting his own effort into preparation? Do we worry more about what belongs to Caesar than about considering what we owe God for all our blessings?

The prophets plead with us to see that God gives us what we need. Isaiah asks, “What more was there to do . . . that I had not done?” “The Lord will provide for all peoples . . . and will wipe away tears from every face.” “I have called you by name.” “I am the Lord, there is no other.” St. Paul, too, assures us, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” “My God will fully supply whatever you need.” “Have no anxiety, as with thanksgiving make your requests known to God.”

In the Gospel passages Jesus was trying to show his Jewish people how they and their leaders were not accepting the gift of faith being shown to them. “When John came . . . you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did.” To the vineyard keepers, the leaders, he said, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

They were not going God’s way. Are we, or like Frankie’s song, saying “I’ll do it my way?” Paul says “Think about these things: whatever is honorable . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . .gracious . . . anything worthy of praise.” “Keep on doing what you have learned” since “you turned to God from idols.” If we want to be among the “few chosen” from among the “many called,” then we must change our “unfair ways” and really mean it when we say

“Yes, Sir.”
Matthew 21:30