26th Sunday Ordinary Time Mass and Reflections Kenosis

Scripture readings along with various reflections for this Sunday's Mass are here

Second Reading Philippians 2 :1-11

Ron Rolheiser gives a blockbuster reflection on this second reading here

Extract is below:



"Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus,

who, though He was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Rather, He emptied himself, 

taking the form of a slave."











Gospel : Matthew 21 : 28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
"What is your opinion?


A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'
He said in reply, 'I will not, '
but afterwards changed his mind and went.


The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, 'but did not go.



Which of the two did his father's will?"
They answered, "The first."


Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.


When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.


Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds an
d believe him."

REFLECTIONS

Where do I start ?!!  I've been "hit " by all sorts of inspiration and below are the main remnants cobbled together.

Christ's words here clearly show how He came “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”

He explicitly tells us that it is kenosis or self emptying of our petty egos that leads to God and makes way for the fullness of creation.
It is only through the emptying of the self that one becomes open to the fullness of God. 
In the emptying is the filling.

The self-emptying or giving of oneself to the other is the condition for perichoresis- the mutual indwelling of one another, which is our true or highest nature, the expression of the fullness of our life together.
Well, that state seems an impossible dream for me.
Our hubris as individuals and as a church prevent connection.











God clearly prefers a sinful person who knows they have sinned and repents, to a person who has sinned but considers themselves to be righteous. 
For most of us that has to be a daily exercise oft repeated , not a one off Damascene enlightenment.


We also need a more realistic appraisal of sin. Traditionally, we hammer the sins of the poor like prostitution, which is politically safe, and say nothing about structural sins which drive people into poverty and leave them no other choice.

"Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity.
The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us.
In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.
The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.
If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity.
–A.W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God)

Below are some edited extracts from reflections written by Rev. Fr. Mariano Perrón Director of Inter-Religious Affairs Archdiocese of Madrid, Spain..........

"Once again, the readings for this Sunday present a sharp contrast. First, between human realities: life and death, sin and justice, humiliation and glory. But, that is not all. There is not only a contrast between ideal realities, but between human characters too: evil and good persons, obedient and disobedient sons, tax collectors and teachers of the law, prostitutes, priests and Pharisees. 

For a Christian, all this seems to be a labyrinth, a maze, where it is extremely hard to find a way or a system to combine coherently all those opposite facts.

Thus is the essence of our human reality: manifold and contradictory. 

The truth is the readings from the Scripture try to spur us toward a quest for consistency. 

How can we put together our sinful condition with the conviction that Christ’s salvation is something more than merely comforting words?




How can we know to what extent we are following the path towards the Kingdom?
There is an old phrase to describe both the Church and individual Christians: 
simul sanctus and peccator, “both a saint and a sinner at the same time.”
That is a fact we can find to be true in our own lives, no doubt. The problem arises when we vainly try to pretend that we are saints while we are acting against the principles of our faith.

That is exactly the position of the teachers of the law, the Pharisees and priests who boasted of their strict observance of the Law and cast doubts on Jesus’ authority and honesty.

The parable of the two sons is at the same time an answer and a criticism that goes to the core of their attitude.

At the end of the passage, another question, in this case more direct, unmasks their hypocrisy and self-contradiction.





Jesus’ position concerning this issue can be summed up in one simple sentence: “Only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do will enter the Kingdom of heaven”
In the end, there is a calling to a way of life which is utterly different from that of the official evaluation of facts and, especially, of persons. 
Once again, we find that the way in which God judges our whole life is not based on prejudices, appearances or shallow estimations. 
He judges our real attitudes, not our words and external signs, not the labels of justice we stick on ourselves. 

Only when we understand that being a Christian is a process, not a state, a permanent conversion to the Gospel and not a mere routine; only then can we see how far from the Kingdom the teachers of the law, the Pharisees and we ourselves, are.

Pride is the real frontier between sin and salvation, and that is why tax-collectors and prostitutes, if they recognize their sins and start to follow Jesus, can go into the Kingdom ahead of us.

Meditatio


Contradiction is a part of our human condition. When I look back on my life and my commitment to faith, how many times have I said “yes” to what I believed was my duty, my responsibility or Jesus’ calling, and in fact acted exactly in the opposite direction? 



Just like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, do I also look down upon 
and underestimate certain groups of persons or institutions ?

Who are my “tax-collectors and prostitutes”?

 

 

 

 

Oratio


I  pray and ask for a clear conscience so as to recognize the contradictions and inconsistencies in my life. 
I Pray for strength to fight against them and fully act according to the Gospel .
I  Pray especially for those who feel despised or rejected.

Contemplatio


I need to consider the contrast between the process in Jesus’ life, from humiliation to death and resurrection, and the vain pride and self-satisfied attitude that I often have."
................................................................................................................................................................

One of the people that popped up in my own reflections on this passage was 
the story of Fr Marcial Maciel  see one account of story here. 



There is enough evidence  that the church is in a crisis of trust.

Who can we trust in the church these days ? There are many who are willing to keep silent or who are in denial or who ask us to live in some state of moral cognitive dissonance, shoring up issues that many want out in the open.










It has gone far beyond  just a case of a few bad eggs. There is a type rottenness at the core that has to be excised.

Just two articles like this one and this one  epitomise the dilemma that faces discerning Catholics as to who and what to believe.  

I agree with some but not all of both of them !! 

The second one has a slightly sinister aspect of control and manipulation behind it that I reject and the first one suggests that the necessary dialogue could lead to confrontation that would lead to schism and I don't want that either.  

"Maybe the best thing that could happen to the church would be for some great tidal wave of history to wash it all away – 
the church buildings tumbling, the church money all lost, 
the church bulletins blowing through the air like dead leaves, the differences between preachers and congregations all lost too. Then all we would have left would be each other and Christ, which was all there was in the first place."

 


Frederick Buechner, The Clown in the Belfry, San Francisco: Harper, 1992.


“Come unto me. Come unto me, you say. All right then, dear my Lord. I will try in my own absurd way.

In my own absurd way I will try to come unto you, a project which is in itself by no means unabsurd.

Because I do not know the time or place where you are. 
And if by some glad accident my feet should stumble on it, I do not know that I would know that I had stumbled on it.

And even if I did know, I do not know for sure that I would find you there. … And if you are there, I do not know that I would recognize you.

And if I recognized you, I do not know what that would mean or even what I would like it to mean.
I do not even well know who it is you summon, myself. 

For who am I? 

I know only that heel and toe, memory and metatarsal, I am everything that turns, all of a piece, unthinking, at the sound of my name. … 

Come unto me, you say. I, … all of me, unknowing and finally unknowable even to myself, turn.








O Lord and lover, I come if I can to you down through the litter of any day, through sleeping and waking and eating and saying goodbye and going away and coming back again. 

Laboring and laden with endless histories heavy on my back.”

Frederick Buechner,
The Alphabet of Grace
Tozer wrote these words in 1948 - more than 60 years ago.

His words are still relevant.

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