September 27, 2020: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: 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.”
Just before this Gospel, the religious leaders asked Jesus where he gets the authority to do the things he’d been doing; cleansing the temple, healing the sick, teaching. Instead of answering them directly, he asks their opinion of this parable. Both sons failed their father; one in words, one in action. The religious leaders correctly pick the son who had a change of heart and went to work in his father’s vineyard. Jesus wants them to understand that having the greater knowledge of God’s word and will is good, it is where the authority to act comes from, but knowledge alone is not enough. God’s word must be acted on. Yet, they had failed to work among God’s people and walk in the way of the “righteous” – the way of love, mercy, justice. In failing to act, they had also failed to see their need of repentance.
Jesus is calling us to see the broader implications of our words and actions. Today, the needs of all of God’s creation are still great. As Mother Theodore would say: “We are not called upon to do all the good that is possible, but only that which we can do.” What can you do this week?
This week, be purposefully mindful of your actions. Is there anything you say or do, or fail to do that needs your attention? Jesus calls us to repent when we fail to do what we ought to do. Do you think of the need for repentance in what you fail to do?