Homily for the twenty-sixth Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 21:28-32


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Jesus said to the Jews: 'What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, "Son, go and work in the vineyard today." And he answered, "I will not"; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, "I go, sir," but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?' They said, 'The first.' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.' "





Homily:


"Jesus said to the Jews: 'What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, "Son, go and work in the vineyard today." And he answered, "I will not"; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, "I go, sir," but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?' They said, 'The first.' "


It seems quite likely that today's parable was told by Jesus two or three days before his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Lord knows that his Passion is near. Soon, he will suffer for the sins of men. But is this suffering something that Jesus desires? Does a sensible man, a man who is full of common sense and reason, like Jesus, desire suffering? I do not believe so. However, Jesus WANTS to suffer, for it is the will of the Father: "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Mt. 26:39)


All his life, Jesus had two loves: the love of his Father, and the love of his Mother. The love of his Mother seemed to hinder him from having the desire to suffer, for, if he were to suffer, then how could Mary, his Mother, not suffer as well? Now, to make his Mother suffer is something that Jesus did not want. But the love of his Father led Jesus to want to suffer, for this was the will of his Father, that Father who was so loved, and all-loving, but infinitely just, with a justice that demanded the Blood of a God for the remission of the sins of men...


So, the first of the sons in the parable did not want to go and work in the vineyard: he did not want to suffer... This son also had two loves: the love of self, and the love of his father. First it is the love of self that has the upper hand, then it is the love of his father that dominates. Here he begins by loving himself, and replies to his father, "I will not." But, as this son has a upright conscience, it reproaches him for his attitude toward his father and, finally, it is his love for his father that wins out: he goes to work in the vineyard, he does the will of his father!


As for the second son, we may ask if there is truly any love in him. He certainly has no love for his father, since he does not do his father's will. He doubtless has no love for himself either, since he lies to his father... The second son has no respect for his own person: he is without honor, without conscience, without love... In short, he is not a man.


"Jesus said to them, 'Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.' "


In the second part of this gospel, Jesus applies the parable of the two sons to the people of his time, who are divided into two groups: those who, like the first son, will convert themselves and carry out the will of God; and those who, like the second son, will want to kill the Love that can save them... But the most tragic part of this story is the hardening of the hearts of those in the second category: the conversion of the first group will not lead to the conversion of the second... This is why Jesus insists, with a certain bitterness: "Even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him." (Mt. 21:32)


Good examples are contagious; and bad ones too... One might have believed that the good example of the first son would have served to further the conversion of the second son. But it was not so... This is a Mystery! The Mystery of the grace of God that respects the liberty of man! In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had invited Peter, James and John to pray with him (cf. Mt. 26:37). But the three disciples fell asleep three times, although Jesus woke them up each time. In short, Jesus prayed alone. We might ask ourselves what would have happened if the three disciples had prayed with Jesus?


Are we not also disciples of Christ? Do we not have the possibility of praying with Jesus and with the Church? Is not peace in the world and the conversion of sinners on our lips and in our heart? If we pray, could not the history of the world be different?


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who never ceased praying to prepare for the coming of the Word of God in her, help us and teach us to pray as we should! May the Spirit of God inspire us and draw us to him in order to carry out his Will!




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