Noble Thoughts and Dark Impulse
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

In many years of parish work, there were occasions when a person would talk to me about an event that he still regrets. A parishioner who spent long years in prison related how his mind was darkened when he killed a neighbor over some argument. A parent told the story of how he regretted telling a daughter to get out of the house and never come back. A young man shared his foray into the drug scene and his recurring dark episodes of depression. In all these conversations, the question that they asked themselves is, “Why did I ever do that?”

This Sunday’s readings put us in touch with both our noble and shadow sides. In his letters, St. Paul would repeatedly reminded his converts that they have become new beings. By baptism they have been incorporated into Christ. They must therefore think and act differently. He advised the Philippians, “Your thoughts should be wholly directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure admirable, decent, virtuous, or worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8). St. Paul was appealing to their positive potentials. He knew they were ordinary men and women trying to live life differently, even as they struggle with former habits. St. Paul shared his own experience of breaking with his own past, “But those things I used to consider gain, I have now reappraised as loss in the light of Christ” (Phi. 3:7).

Action starter: Turn away from deeds of darkness.

There are times though that dark forces take hold of human beings.. This is shown by Jesus in his parable about the ungrateful tenants (Mt. 21:33-43). The owner leased his vineyard to his tenants and went on a journey . When vintage time came he sent his servants to collect his share of the grapes. The servants were maltreated and killed. When he sent his own son they “seized him, dragged him outside the vineyard, and killed him.” On the level of Jesus’ audience at that time, the meaning of the parable was obvious. He was referring to how the prophets were treated of his own coming death. For us today, we can see in the parable the workings of evil in a darkened mind, “Let us kill him and then we shall have his inheritance.” The evil action (kill) is accompanied by an evil intention (have his inheritance). This is not just an act of passion. This is a cold-blooded plan hatched in the dark recesses of the minds of murderers.

We are daily confronted with choices. We can choose the light or the darkness. We can choose noble thoughts and follow them or we can allow our dark impulses to govern us. By some quirk of human nature, our own curiosity leads us to the dark. People who have experimented venturing into the dark side found it an uphill journey to go back to the light. If not for the grace of God, they would still be miserable in the darkness. Ask the young men and women who are trying to get out of the grips of drug addiction. Ask the alcoholic who is trying to recover from his habit. Ask the curious seeker who tried witchcraft. Ask the young man who joined a band of thieves and criminals. Ask the girl who got lured into prostitution and abortion. Ask the adventurer who is trying to live a peaceful life after years of guns and bloodshed.

The good news is that we do not have to stay in the dark. God calls us to the light. By the wounds of the Lord Jesus we are saved. He paid the ultimate price by his own death of the cross. He conquered death through His resurrection. He has gone down to the nether world and rose again in glory.

This too could be our own story. From darkness to light. From being lost to being found. From hell to glory.