God Wants a Conversion of Our Hearts

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ez 18: 25-28; Phil 2: 1-5; Mt 21: 28-32

Dc. Larry Brockman


God is looking for a conversion of the heart!  That’s what it is all about to God- what is really in our hearts.  And one thing about a conversion of the heart that is so important is this: it needs to be constant; it needs to go on as long as we live.


First, we have Ezekiel’s example.  The Lord justifies one who, late in life, turns from his sins and begins to do what is right and just.  Why-  because he had a conversion of heart.  On the other hand, imagine someone who walks through life mostly doing good, but then, late in life, he wanders off in the wrong direction. Can it be that such a person was not committed all along?  He might be someone who goes through the motions in the ordinary things of life, but then, when the going gets tough, when the real test of his or her faith comes, this person abandons his faith, and falls into sin.  Now you might say, Does that really happen?  Are righteous people who make one final mistake abandoned by God?  But I think that it is the opposite that is the case.  There are those who associate with, but don’t really embrace righteousness.  And when they are tested, really tested about their commitment to the right thing, they walk away from it.  Let’s face it, we are tested all the time- it is a constant test that God gives us.  


Jesus gives an excellent example in the Gospel parable.  One son said no to his Father, but then had a change of heart.  Deep down, he knew what the right thing was to do- to obey the father.  His own desires were those of the flesh- laziness, his own agenda, pre-occupation with other things, and so he originally said no.  But his heart won the day, what God had written in his heart as the right thing to do, his conscience.  And so he did as the father bid.  Indeed, he spent that one day working in the father’s vineyard- but you know, I am sure that it was actually one of many.  The other son knew all the right things to say and do.  He had knowledge; he had opportunity; and he projected well.  But when the chips were down, he followed his own agenda and not what was written in his heart.  And you can be sure that it was not the only time he did not do what he said he would do.   


In today’s world, there are a lot of folks who fall victim to this second son’s way of thinking.  They make a commitment to do something, something that is the right thing to do that involves a sacrifice of their own time or agenda.  They might make that commitment to get off the hook, to relieve the pressure, because someone is pressuring them or some circumstance is nagging them; whatever.  It is a convenient at the moment to say yes.  But then, when the time actually comes to deliver, they don’t follow through.  These are the folks who have not had a conversion of the heart.  They are working their own agenda deep inside.  Oh, they have excuses for their behavior.  I forgot; something came up; I didn’t think you really needed me; and the like.  But deep down, it is a lack of commitment of the heart that holds them back.   


What is the solution?  Paul’s advice today seems right on the money.  We should all be of one mind- “with the same love, united in heart, thinking the one thing”.  And what is that one thing?  Doing the will of the Father.  Now the will of the Father takes some discernment.  But that discernment is not just what we think with our heads, but what we feel is in our hearts.


You know, as I get older, I tend to get just a little lazy.  My body tells me that I am too tired to do this or that, or too busy to interrupt my routine.  I might tell myself that my days for taking on the world have passed, it is time to take it easy.  I kind of felt that way yesterday when I was working in the yard.  I had all kinds of good things planned, but I got tired after four hours and had to quit. But really, I’m not talking about that kind of tired.  Rather, I am talking about things of the Spirit- something we feel deep down we need to do for someone else, or for us to grow spiritually.  And you know, we are never too old to grow spiritually.  So, sometimes my heart is nagging me when my body tells me that I would rather not- like the men’s Bible group I belong to that meets at 7 AM on Thursday.  It means I have to get up by 5:30 AM to get there in time and that’s in the middle of the night for me!  But this small group of men depends on each other to build their spirituality- to be of one mind and heart.  And so, they depend on me to be there.  And so, it is important to listen to my heart, and not my body,  because God is looking for a lasting conversion of the heart   


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