Tìm Kiếm

29 tháng 9, 2014

Homily for the XXVI Sunday in Ordinary Time A (Sep 28, 2014)

Fr. Joseph Pham Quoc Van, O.P.
My dear brothers and sisters,
The parable in today’s Gospel is one of the few that doesn’t start with the words: “The kingdom of heaven is like….”, but it is still about the operation of the kingdom of heaven. It is a parable about a man with two sons.
First of all, let us study the context of today’s gospel passage. Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is completed. He is met by an enthusiastic crowd when he enters the city. Then he goes directly to the Temple. There he acted as someone in charge by cleansing the Temple of its commercial activity. The crowds adored him, but the religious leaders were growing more antagonistic to his presence, actions and message. In this context of resistance by the religious authorities, Jesus tells the parable of the father and his two children.
The father came to his sons and invited them to go out and work in the vineyard. The first son tell his father: “No, not me.” while the second son said: “Yes, I’ll go and work”. At the end, both used words contrary to their actions; because the older brother changed his mind and the younger brother didn’t live up to his words.
Truly, the older brother had integrity; the younger brother gave cheap, valueless words to his father while having no intention at all of working. The older brother had no intention of working and then had the honesty of saying so to his father. He was wrong, but he was honest. The younger brother was the opposite. He said the expedient thing to his father knowing what his father wanted to hear but he had no in’tegrity. He was insincere because he had no intention of working even though he said he would.
Through this parable, Jesus simply asks which one actually did what the father wanted. ‘Obviously, as the Pharisees note, the first son did. Now, getting the answer he wanted, Jesus proceeds to tell the chief priests and elders that they were like the second son. They say they believe in a Messiah, and say that they follow all the rules and regulations of the Hebrew Torah, but their hearts are stubborn and they refuse to recognize who Jesus is and what he brings them. They will not change their minds like the first son, but continue to do what they want and will not even weigh the evidence.
Perhaps this is why Jesus saw so many “sinners and prostitutes” entering the Kingdom of Heaven first.  Since the great public sinners were presumably not in the habit of making promises at all, years of intending with doing had not yet weakened their resolve.  When Jesus called, they were still capable of decisive action.
The passage of today reminds us that true conversion does not leave our egos intact. It is always a humbling experience, like the one Jesus calls the chief priests and elders to accept – seeing those we had looked down upon make their way into the kingdom before us. Conversion is always a turning of the tables, “holy ones” exchange places with “sinners.” If we can do these things, we will have a happy. Maybe that’s the point Pope Francis is making in, "The Joy of the Gospel." All the baptized are called to be evangelizers. If we have said our "yes" to Christ through our baptism then just going to church on Sundays is not enough. Our "yes" must be followed by going into the vineyard "today." Each day our words and actions must be consistent with what we say about believing in Jesus. Amen.
Fr. Joseph Pham Quoc Van, O.P.