Agreeing with the Father’s Designs

27 September 2020 – 26th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME- Year A
Matthew 21:28-32

Fr. Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications

The parable of today’s gospel depicts three characters: a father and two sons. At the invitation of his father to go to work in the vineyard, one, right away said ‘no’ and later repented and went to the field. The other one zealously and readily answered: Yes, sir,  but then did not go. Their responses reminds us of another saying of Jesus: “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my heavenly Father” (Mt 7:21).

In the first case, the allusion to the hated Gentiles—who are now elevated to the status of children—is explicit. They have not given any formal adherence to the will of the Lord, but they entered first in the kingdom of God. Now, the father approaches the other son, who evidently represents the Israelites whom Moses had already called unfaithful children” (Dt 32:5.20).

This finding may lead to the dangerous illusion that these two children are of the prehistoric characters and have nothing to do with us. Christians would be the “third son,” the one who says yes and does the will of the Father. But let’s ask ourselves what impact have our formulas, our statements, our formal stand, our rituals in everyday life (Go to work today in the vineyard!)? Do they put an end to hatred, wars, abuses? While continuing to profess ourselves Christians, do we not easily resign ourselves to a life of compromise?

The third child exists, but we are not that child. Only “the Son of God, Jesus Christ—Paul writes—was not “yes” and “no,” but with him it was simply yes. “In him all the promises of God have come to be a yes(2 Cor 1:19). He is the one who always said: Yes, Father, this was your gracious will” (Mt 11:26).

The conclusion of the parable is that, The tax collectors and the prostitutes are ahead of you in the kingdom of God.” “The publicans and the harlots” who know they are far from God do not delude themselves of doing his will. They are conscious of having said no; they do not try to fool themselves by fulfilling the precepts they themselves invented. They do not soothe the conscience with practices that have nothing in common with the true religion. Their awareness of being poor, weak, sinners in need of help, predisposes them to be first in receiving God’s gift.

Translated by Fr. John Ledesma SDB

Abridged by Fr. Jijo kandamkulathy CMF