Judge by the Character

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The WORD in other words by Fr Sonny de Rivera SVD — Rome

Tuesday 3rd Week of Advent

Photo: Kindergarten Children on their educational tour in Kinshasa, Congo

There is a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King that many Americans remember by heart: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” It is indisputable that the gist of the message is that in life, character matters. It is a message that is inspirational and something to live by.

In the parable, Jesus tells about the two sons characterizing the relationship with their father. Rather than focusing on the two sons, I believe that Jesus shows us two attitudes equally present in us. We complain on the one hand, and we are complacent on the other. Our gripes are often unfounded; in reality, they are a way to express our needs, most especially to be loved.

However, we become easily complacent because of the fear of losing acceptance and affection. How easily we nod with approval even when we don’t want to for fear of bothering or causing frustration for others. We become a “yes man” to maintain a relationship that would otherwise snap. Jesus reminds us that protesting and being complacent are far from being authentic behaviors. They merely polish the relationship from the outside with no depth.

The Gospel reminds us of something we often forget: words can be meaningless. Promises are empty when not followed by accomplishment. The first son is bigheaded and conceited, but his action shows his goodness. The second son sounds obliging but fails to keep his promise.

Do we make promises to others that we quickly throw out of the window? How often have we made promises although we know that it is not going to happen? Can we say that we talk the talk and walk the walk? Isn’t this the character that Martin Luther King is talking about whereby we will be judged?

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