Pleasing the Beloved
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

One night I had a dream. In my dream, St. Peter was giving me a tour of heaven. There were different beautiful mansions. There was the blood-red Mansion of Martyrs where I met St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Pedro Calungsod. I also met St. Therese and St.Clare in the lily-white Mansion of Virgins. Joy and laughter filled the mansion of Angels where the little children go. I was inebriated by the air of love in the Mansion of Charity where I saw Mother Teresa and St. Francis. There was peace and serenity in the Mansion of Doctors of the Church where I saw St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas reviewing their theological insights in the light of the Truth.

One strange room puzzled me. It was a beautiful flower garden and flying around were little pieces of flesh with little wings like butterflies. I asked St. Peter what place it was and he told me it was the Mansion of Tongues. It was where the tongues of people who speak of goodness, charity, nobility, and sacrifice waited. Their bodies were still being purified in Purgatory. Their deeds have not caught up with their words. They spoke a lot and did little. They made promises and did not fulfill them. They had good intentions but lacked action. They had the wish but not the will.

That’s when I woke up. I dozed while reading these passages from this Sunday’s liturgy. The Gospel tells the story of the two sons who were ordered by their father to work in the vineyard. The younger one said, “Yes” but did not go. The older one said, “No” but later realized his disobedience and went. Jesus then asked his audience the question, “Which of the two did what his father wanted? (Mt. 21:31). The answer is obvious. Pleasing the beloved is a matter of deeds, not just words. The same theme runs through the first reading from the prophet Ezekiel, “When someone evil stops sinning and does what is right and good, he saves his life” (Ez. 18:26). St. Paul tells his disciples what would make him happy, “I urge you, then, to make me completely happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and being one in soul and mind” (Phil. 2:2).

Action starter: Love is a matter of action.

If we want to make the beloved happy, we must join our mind, will, heart, and actions with whom we love. St. Paul cites the Hymn of Kenosis (Emptying) about Christ’s loving obedience to His Father, “He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross” (Phil.2:8).

Most people want to do what is good. Most of us who profess to be disciples of Christ want to follow the way of the Master. The problem is that our actions cannot quiet catch up with our good intentions. We do not lack words but we are short on deeds. As one Filipino rap line goes, “Gusto kong bumait, hindi ko magawa” – I want to be good but I cannot do it. What then is the secret that bridges intentions and actions, words and deeds?

St. Paul reveals to us the secret. If you love someone, you will do the best you can to make that person happy. Love is the bridge. It is love that urges us, gives us the courage, and strengthens our will to do what is right, truthful, noble, and good. If our actions cannot quiet catch up with our words, perhaps we do not love enough. Or perhaps, the love we profess remain in our sentiments and feelings and have not yet gone to our hands and feet.

In which case, our tongues will be in the Garden of Heaven, while waiting for our bodies to catch up.