The First Reading, from Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32, is a call to repentance, but also a warning that to turn away from the Lord to sin will bring punishment. In antiquity is was not uncommon that a person’s family could be punished for the transgressions of the person, and there was some religious precedent for that, but in this passage from Ezekiel the Lord announces through Ezekiel that if a righteous person turns from the way of righteousness their past righteousness will be of no benefit, but also that if a sinner turns from sin to the Lord then the past sins will be forgiven. Ezekiel also proclaims that each person will be responsible for themselves, the extended family will not suffer for the sins of an individual. Through it all there is a call to repentance; the Lord has no pleasure in the death of anyone, so turn and live. In Christ we can repent and turn to the Lord and live.
Forgiving Lord, in this passage we see Your patience, and Your warning about sin. By Your Holy Spirit move us to turn from sin through repentance each day and to receive the forgiveness and life we have in Jesus. In Jesus we pray. Amen.
The Psalm, 25:1-10, is a plea to the Lord to protect David (he wrote the psalm). In the psalm David proclaims his trust in the Lord, and asks the Lord to protect him and lead him more and more in the ways of the Lord. As with many psalms, we can pray this prayer with David. Read the psalm from an attitude of prayer and proclamation of God’s faithfulness. When you do, the Psalm will take on a new and deeper meaning as David’s words become your words.
To You, O Lord, we lift up our souls, in You we trust. Continue to draw us to You in faith, hope, and love. Amen.
The Second Reading is a continuation of reading through most of Philippians. The reading is Philippians 2:1-18. The thrust of the passage is to lead the reader to look more and more to Jesus. Notice verses 6-11; these verses are likely an ancient hymn of the Church (wouldn’t it be fun to sing it today as our ancestors in the Church did 2,000 years ago?). This is a wonderful hymn which proclaims Who Jesus is, what He has done to redeem us, and what all of creation will proclaim because of Jesus’ exaltation. As Christians we proclaim Jesus as Lord, to the glory of God the Father, and we also proclaim Jesus as Savior. Let our words and actions be filled with the proclamation of Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Holy Lord, keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and empower us always to proclaim Him as our Lord and Savior. Let our words and actions always point to Jesus. Amen.
The Gospel, Matthew 21:23-32, begins the final push by Jesus’ enemies to have Him arrested, tried, and crucified; leading to His resurrection. Jesus’ foes began to directly challenge Jesus. In the Gospel they challenged His authority to teach and preach; they did not recognize His authority as being God in human flesh. Before Jesus would answer them, He put them on the spot about the authority of John the Baptist – was John from God or not? They refused to answer.
In response to their challenge, Jesus told a parable about two sons asked to work by their father. Notice their responses. When God calls us to work in His kingdom, what is our response?
Lord Jesus, open our ears and hearts to recognize that Your authority is the authority of the heavenly Father, and move us to follow You as the ultimate authority in our lives. Amen.