Third week of Advent
Gospel: Mt 21: 28-32
Jesus said to the chief priests and the 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.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he 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.”
GRACE OF CONVERSION: The impact of John the Baptist continues in the Gospel today. Jesus uses an event from family life, to teach about the core values of religion. The first son in the parable represents the people who are considered polluted: like prostitutes and tax collectors, but eventually get converted. The second son represents people who follow the institutional religion by performing the external rituals and norms. However, the message of conversion does not enter their hearts. Jesus says that Christianity is a matter of the heart, not of church attendance and rituals. The core message is that we need to be aware of our own defilements and seek the mercy of God. As the psalmist prays, “Be merciful to me, O God, in your great mercy wipe away my sins. I recognize my faults; I am always conscious of my sins”( Psalm 51).
PRAYER: Lord give me the grace of conversion.
GOOD SON, BAD SON: Do you consider yourself to be a good child in front of God? What are the criteria for your judgement? Jesus constantly challenges us to be the children of God not in words or deeds that are out of mere obedience, but by our attitude of love towards God. I see a lot of resemblance between the gospel reading of today (from Mt 21:28-32) and Lk 15: 11-32. Both stories are about two sons – one good, and the other not good. In these stories, what is the criterion of judgement? The criterion is, were they close to their father in his love and will, at the end of the story? Good sons are those who follow the will of God in responding to his love, not those who claim to follow the will of God by their words, nor are those who think they are alright as they are. The Word of God challenges us today; do I deceive myself thinking that I am entitled to be a child of God because I am baptized, or because I call myself a Christian? What is my attitude to God in my daily life, is it full of love?