Sunday, October 1
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 21: 28 – 32
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
The opposition to Jesus by the religious leaders of the day was reaching it’s apex in today’s gospel. The setting is Jerusalem, shortly before these leaders arrange for Jesus’ death. The chief priests and the elders are continually trying to humiliate and discredit him. Jesus tells them this parable to break through their blindness. These religious leaders study the Scriptures, preach to the crowds, serve in the temples, and rule and govern God’s chosen people. They claim to be God’s close collaborators and to follow the Law and Commandments better than anyone else. Yet, they fail to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. On the other hand, sinners and social outcasts (prostitutes and tax collectors) do recognize Jesus as the Christ. They believe in Him and repent from their sin.
Jesus is calling out the Jewish leaders for their hypocrisy, which has blinded them from the truth. He identifies the religious leaders as the second son in the parable. Then, Jesus tells them that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are the first son in the parable, those who do the will of the Father. It is also a parable for each of us. If we are honest with ourselves, at times, we are all hypocritical to some degree. It is easy to say one thing and do another. Our lives and our Faith are not about keeping up appearances. It’s about hearing the Word of God and fully committing ourselves to Jesus Christ.
Additionally, this parable is a gift of hope to all of us. We all are sinners. Jesus tells us that if we repent, and obey and serve the Father, then heaven awaits us. God’s mercy is infinitely ready to receive us, no matter who we have been or what we have done in the past.