October 1, 2023: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: 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 mane 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.”
This reading reminds me immediately of the Flannery O’Connor short story “Revelation,” in which a judgmental woman has a vision of the road to heaven – and the people she looks down upon are leading the way while she trails behind.
I imagine that’s just how the chief priests and elders felt as Jesus told them, “Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.” What words might Jesus use to shock us in the 21st century? Criminals? Politicians?
Who would you be surprised to hear was entering the kingdom of God before you? Why?
Take a moment to reflect on the prejudices we all have about who is worthy and unworthy of God’s blessings. I personally found this exercise deeply troubling … and deeply revealing.
Is there something in your life that God is calling you to, yet you are resisting the call? Think about your strengths and talents. You utilize some of them every day. Others, not so much.
Reflect on a talent you have not developed and take steps to determine how you might flex that particular muscle: If you are a natural (but shy) leader, take on a small leadership role, such as facilitating a group discussion. If you dabble in art, set up time to indulge in painting or drawing. Where might your talents lead if you allowed them to flower fully?