Obedience and Commitment

Matthew 21: 28-32
Zep 3:1-2,9-13 / Psa 34

John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
(Matthew 21:32)

By obedience are we measured,
And then our forgiving quality;
Our Commitment too is treasured,
Last but not least, our humility.

Jesus addressed this parable to the chief priests and elders of the Jews: “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ He answered, ‘I will not,’ but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” (Matthew 21:28-32)

Reflection

Our Lord was clearly was referring to the Pharisees and Scribes as the second son, for they were only paying lip service, and were not really following the spirit of the laws of God. The first son represented the sinners – the tax collectors and prostitutes—who, though they had sinned, later repented, and so were admitted into God’s kingdom. We who have discovered the fellowship of Jesus in our different communities feel fortunate that we heeded His call. We now strive to be good and virtuous in our lives. But be forewarned. Even in our initial ‘success,’ there is still the danger that we may become self-righteous like the Pharisees, who looked down on the tax collectors and prostitutes as if these did not deserve to be saved. In their prejudice and self-righteousness they only earned the contempt of the Lord.

There are three other things that Jesus emphasizes in this parable aside from obedience. The first is the importance of being forgiving in all things and in everyone. The father’s forgiveness of the disrespectful first son changed his heart, and he decided to obey his father’s command. The second is the virtue of humility. Once you start feeling humble, then you’re not. A humble person is never concerned about himself. In fact, he is so full of concern for others that he loses his sense of self.

The third is commitment. Once we have made the commitment to change for the better, the process will snowball, and we will become closer to the Lord and His children. The hard-hearted and the half-hearted are not capable of making lasting commitments because it involves a radical change. Both sons in the parable changed their minds: the first, to obey his father; the second, to disobey because perhaps he had other plans in mind. It takes a soft heart — a great amount of sensitivity– to make the shift. It also involves boldness to pursue the object of one’s commitment. The faltering, unsure individual is usually the first to give up or give in when trials come to test his commitment. Only the stouthearted will prevail.

Help me, dear God, to change and make a stand for Jesus Christ, my Lord. In everything I do, I know I must be faithful and true. Perseverance is the only way.

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