Reflections for Sunday, September 25, 2011

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145: 2-3,8-9,17-18; Philippians 1:20-24,27; Matthew 20:1-16)

Knowing and Doing the Will of Our Heavenly Father

“Which of the two did his father’s will?” (Matthew 21:31). 

This is a familiar story. A father sends each of his two sons to work in his vineyard. The first says no, but later changes his mind and goes. The second readily agrees to go, but never follows through. We don’t know if he was just giving the expected answer and never intended to go, or if he started out in the right direction but got distracted. Of course, it was the first son who did his father’s will.

Think about the father. Perhaps getting his grapes harvested wasn’t his only objective, or even the most important one he had in mind. Perhaps he knew his sons could easily get in trouble if they didn’t have something productive to do. Maybe he hoped it would be an occasion to help them learn more about the family business they would inherit one day.

What is our Father’s intent for us? Perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye. God urges us to avoid sin not because he wants to make things tough for us but because he knows how much sin hurts us and those we love. Perhaps what we may see as a burdensome church rule is intended as a doorway into a closer relationship with God, who longs to spend time with us but knows we may need the rule to make sure we spend time with him.

Maybe changing the wording of the prayers and responses at Mass can be an occasion for entering more mindfully into those prayers, as well as uniting us with those throughout the world who pray them in words and phrases more like the ones we are now using.

We may start out with a minimalist attitude: What is the least I can do and still be saved? But if we linger in our Father’s presence, we will discover that it is a delightful place to be!

“Father, thank you for inviting me to work alongside you to build your kingdom in this world. Help me be more attentive to your purposes for me.” 

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.) 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. In the first reading, God cautions us against accusing him of being unfair, without first examining our own lives.  How often do you do an examination of conscience and repent of (and turn away from) your sins? Are there times in your life when you are prone to blame God for your difficulties, rather than your own behavior?  What can you do to be more accountable for the consequences of your decisions?
  2. In the responsorial psalm, we ask God to “guide” and “teach” us.  How often do you turn to God during the day to ask for guidance?  What steps can you take to be more alert to and open to God’s presence during the day?
  3. In the second reading,St. Paulurges us to be of one “mind” and “heart”.  What can you do this week to restore bonds of love and unity between individuals who have become estranged?  Maybe there is someone in your own life.
  4. St. Paulgoes further and also says an astonishing thing.  We are told to regard others as more important than ourselves!  How do you honestly regard others relative to yourself?  What specifically do you need to do to begin adopting the attitude described bySt. Paul?
  5. In the Gospel, Christ admonishes the chief priests and elders for giving lip service to their faith, but not really living it. They claim to follow God, but actually do nothing.  Can that be said of you?  What can you do to make your faith have a greater impact on how you live out your life (i.e., be not just a hearer of the Word, but a “doer”)?
  6. The meditation challenges us with this question: “What is our Father’s intent for us?” How would you answer this? What steps can you take to be more faithful to “our Father’s intent”?
  7. Take some time now to pray that the Lord would give you the grace to know and do God’s will and to be more attentive to his plan for your life. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.