Patience and Admonition 26th Sunday Ordinary Time A
Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32
In today’s gospel passage Jesus admonishes the chief priests and elders. Jesus does so by telling these priests and elders that, “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.” I imagine that Jesus said these words with emphasis in a similar way that he told Peter to “Get behind me, Satan!… you are not on the side of God, but of men. (Matthew 16:23 RSVCE)” Jesus said these strong words to Peter because Peter had tried to dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem where Jesus would “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed (Matthew 16:21 RSVCE)”.
In admonishing Peter and in admonishing the chief priests and scribes, Jesus was performing a spiritual work of mercy, specifically the work of mercy of admonishing the sinner. This is not the only work of mercy that Jesus did for Jesus does all things perfectly and performed all the works of mercy when the situation required it. At times the heavenly Father’s will was not for Jesus to correct a sinner but rather “to bear patiently” those who wronged him.
Bearing patiently those who wrong us is another spiritual work of mercy. When Jesus bore his cross up the hill of Calvary he bore wrongs patiently but even when demonstrating extreme patience Jesus also, when appropriate admonished people, for example weeping women of Jerusalem whom he told “do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. (Luke 23:28 RSVCE)”
Like Jesus, there will be times in our lives where our Heavenly Father wants us to bear wrongs patiently. However, at other times our Heavenly Father expects us not simply to silently bear wrongs patiently but rather to boldly speak out, as Jesus at times did, but only when Jesus knew that this is what His Heavenly Father wanted Him to do.
Often, I find that I speak out at the wrong moments when I should have, in hindsight, remained silent and should have borne suffering patiently while praying for the one causing the suffering. At other times I remain silent when I should have, in hindsight, spoken out on a wrong being done.
Recently, the pastoral theologian, Dr. Gregory Popcak, reflected on the importance of discerning when to speak out and when to remain silent or when to admonish sinners and when to bear wrongs patiently. Popcak advises us to see the emotion of anger as a gift from God which when felt is a call first to prayer. In prayer we are to discern what is the response God wants me to take to that which has caused me to be angry? Am I to bear wrongs patiently as Jesus did many times, especially when dying on the cross in an act of perfect forgiveness? – Or – Am I to admonish the sinner for have done a wrong that if continued will hurt many more people? If we do not respond first with prayer to anger we experience, then instead of being an occasion to align my will to God’s will the anger becomes an occasion to act according to my first habitual reaction. For some of us, this may be with an angry outburst that is disproportionate to what has offended us. For others, our habitual reaction may be to hold the anger within us and not speak out but rather feel sorry for ourselves with the justification that we are bearing wrongs patiently.
Today, may learn from Jesus who both admonished sinners and bore wrongs patiently. May we recognize every time when we feel anger as a gift from God calling us to pray, and in that prayer, to discern how God wants me to respond in a way that reflects the life of Jesus Christ.
Peace and Blessings – Fr Peter
“The Summons,” The Iona Community.
Public Domain, “Jesus Preaching, Tissot,” https://www.hprweb.com/2013/03/lenten-reflections-patience/.
Public Domain, Georges de La tour, “The Penitent Magdalen,” https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436839.
Public Domain, Caspar David Friedrich, “Two Man Contemplating the Moon,” https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/438417?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&high=on&ao=on&showOnly=openAccess&ft=Christian&offset=40&rpp=20&pos=59.
Public Domain, “Receiving Sinners for the Glory of God,” https://chosenrebel.me/2011/08/21/receiving-sinners-for-the-glory-of-god/
Public Domain, http://jubileeofmercy-eb.org/page/reflection-admonish-sinners/.
Public Domain, James Tissot, http://www.marysrosaries.com/collaboration/index.php?title=File:Jesus_Drives_the_Merchants_from_the_Temple_001.jpg.
Public Domain, Carl Heinrich Bloch, http://marysrosaries.com/collaboration/index.php?title=File:Cleansing_of_the_Temple_-_Carl_Heinrich_Bloch.jpg.
Public Domain, William Brassey Hole, http://www.marysrosaries.com/collaboration/index.php?title=File:Christ-driving-the-money-changers-from-the-temple_001.jpg.
Public Domain, James Tissot, http://www.marysrosaries.com/collaboration/index.php?title=File:Jesus_Heals_the_Blind_and_the_Lame_in_the_Temple_001.jpg.
Public Domain, James Tissot, http://www.marysrosaries.com/collaboration/index.php?title=File:Station_6_-_Veronica_Wipes_the_Face_of_Jesus_004.jpg.
 Dr. Greg Popcak and Lisa Popcak EWTN 09 21 2020 Morning Broadcast.