Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two cities, two sons

Two selections from today's daily Mass readings

Thus says the LORD:
Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted,
to the tyrannical city!
She hears no voice,
accepts no correction;
In the LORD she has not trusted,
to her God she has not drawn near.
For then I will change and purify
the lips of the peoples,
That they all may call upon the name of the LORD,
to serve him with one accord;
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
and as far as the recesses of the North,
they shall bring me offerings.
                  --Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-10

[Jesus said to the chief priests and the 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.’
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he 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.
                                             --Matthew 21:28-32

Someone once remarked that the prophets of ancient Israel never dreamed that all the world would become Jews, but they did dream of a day when all would worship the Lord.    Thus, if given a glimpse of the modern globe, "beyond the rivers of Ethiopia and as far as the recesses of the North," teeming with Christians and Muslims all worshiping, in our own very different ways, with our own very different theologies, the God of Israel, they might have seen a lot to like.

As a Catholic Christian, I believe that the truest fulfillment of those prophetic aspirations, and the best hope of the world's City of Man becoming a City of God that He has "change[d] and purif[ied]," lies in the Church, the Body of Christ.  

But then I consider myself as a Christian, and all my many failings.  Jesus says to us all, "Come, follow me."  Like the second son in the parable, how often have I talked the talk of "Yes" but not walked its walk?  And how often have those who have said "No" to a worldview centered in Christ--or in any idea of God at all--still lived lives of service that put my best efforts to shame?

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