THEME: SECOND CHANCE
READINGS: Ezekiel 18:25-28 / Philippians 2:1-11 / Matthew 21:28-32
26th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Today I have entitled the message, ‘Second Chance’. I guess some people are immediately thinking of the movie series entitled ‘Second Chance’. But that is not the reason for choosing this title, for I cannot even mention the name of a single actor in that movie. Rather, I have chosen this title because, God says that He is giving us a Second Chance. In other words, He is forgiving us. In fact, He gives us a Second Chance not only once, but as often as we request for it.
WHY SHOULD THE REPENTANT BE FORGIVEN?
In the first reading (Ezek. 18:25-28), the Jews were not happy that the sinner who repents is forgiven, as against the good person who later becomes a wicked person. Jesus, in turn, explains that the sinner who repents is forgiven because he/she is like the son who initially refused to work on his father’s farm, but later changed his mind and went to do the work (Matt. 21:28-32).
Thus, the sinner who repents is forgiven because:
He or she has regretted his or her bad deeds and resolved not to return to them;
He or she realizes that his or her life depends on God; and
He or she realizes that life should be lived as willed by God, the Giver-of-life.
WHY THE RIGHTEOUS PERSON WHO TURNS EVIL IS NOT FORGIVEN IF HE DOESN’T REPENT
Whilst we will enjoy God’s second chance if we repent from our sins, the prophet Ezekiel says, if we change from being good persons and become wicked we will be punished by the Lord. Why? Jesus illustrates why this is so by saying that the second son said ‘I will go, sir’, but he did not go to the farm.
Here is another illustration: take someone who begins a long distance race (e.g. 10,000m) with the speed of legendary sprinter, Usain Bolt (while receiving all the cheers in the stadium). But then he stops after the first lap. In that case, his initial good speed or performance comes to nothing, and he will receive no reward or medal. Similarly, if we backslide in our Christian life and remain so till death, we will receive no reward from God.
I began by talking about the Second Chance that God gives us. Indeed, God is ever-willing to forgive us. This Second Chance is given not only once, but as often as we request for it. Thus, even backsliders have several Second Chances. Now, therefore, let us approach the Lord to ask for another Second Chance, as we pray:
Lord Jesus, I am in need of a second chance right now! You gave the thief on the cross who repented a second chance and favoured him with the joy of paradise! Mercifully, therefore, overlook my many sins, and give me today the joy of a second chance! Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis