September 28, 2014, Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Like it or not, we do need government. We need political leaders, people willing to make laws, to guide policy. But since we prefer that our leaders, and would-be leaders, tell us only things we want to hear, they often utter half-truths that might mean anything---and thus mean nothing---while they move to the next question, the next press conference.

Spiritual leaders, too, can fall victim to our wish not to be disturbed. Real truths aren’t always comfortable. Take this one: “ [Tax] ax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31). Hardly designed to please Jesus’ listeners, since the “you” he was addressing included the religious elite, the cream of the spiritual crop.
Nor was it Jesus’ strategy to please the masses by claiming to be anti-establishment. Popular or unpopular with the institutions, up or down in the “polls” of the day---those things meant nothing to him.

But how do we know whether Jesus was telling the truth?For the most part, we can answer that question for ourselves. In fact, for the most part, we’d be hard pressed to find any sincere person---of any religious tradition or culture---who would disagree with the fundamentals of Jesus’ message.

When Jesus announces that true religion consists in doing justice, not just in calling ourselves just---does anyone disagree? When he proclaims us all members of one human family, are there any serious dissenting voices? Even when he teaches that happiness does not lie in holding on to possessions, where are the naysayers?

Certainly there are aberrations: preachers of racism, nationalism, chauvinism, ethnic supremacy. Jesus would denounce them, whoever they are. And he’d be recognized as right, took, even if it got him into trouble. Jesus wasn’t put to death because his message was one that his listeners wanted to hear. He was crucified because he told the truth, popular or not.

Today’s Readings: Ez 18:25-28; Ps 25:4-9; Phil 2:1-11 [1-5]; Mt 21:28-32