Monday, September 19, 2011

Gospel Text for Sunday, September 25, 2011

Matthew 21:23-32

When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" Jesus said to them, "I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, `From heaven,' he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, `Of human origin,' we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

"What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, `I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him."

1 comment:

  1. When faced with Jesus’ Socratic question intended to illumine the inconsistency between what the Pharisees said they believed and how they actually behaved, the Pharisees did what petulant children do, they took their proverbial baseball and bat and went home. Frankly there are times when I would rather do likewise than confront myself with my failure to live according with my own professed beliefs. So, I shrug my shoulders, put on a bit of attitude and claim, “I don’t know.” I don’t want to examine myself and my behavior. I don’t want to be humiliated, yet again, and it seems as if there is no way around it.

    But Jesus is merciful. He did not stop with exposing the Pharisees (and my) contradictions. He did not seek to humiliate or punish. He proceeded to offer a transforming alternative. Rather than continue to be like the second son in Jesus’ parable who told his father that he would go to the vineyard, and then did not go, Jesus described and affirmed the first son, who although at first he said no to his father’s request that he go to the vineyard, later he changed his mind and went. Rather than condemn (or humiliate) a person who has made a poor or ungodly decision, (eg turned against you, acted out of fear) Jesus essentially applauds the person who rethinks the decision previously made, changes her mind and changes her behavior.

    It seems a bit ironic that Jesus offers the same mercy as did John the Baptist. Repent. Change you mind and change your ways and receive the mercy that comes from heaven rather than the condemnation that is of human origin. Help me Jesus to change my mind and amend my ways, to the glory of Your Name. Amen