26th Sunday in Ordinary Time A - 1 October 2023
This week’s parable is a very good one to reflect on even though it is fairly short in length. Jesus is speaking to the chief priests and the elders of the people and He asks them their opinion as He proceeds to tell them a story. Like another familiar story, this one begins with a man who has two sons. The first disobeys his father when asked to go to the vineyard but then changes his mind and goes. The second one is asked to do the same thing and agrees but then is a ‘no-show’.
Jesus then asks the question, ‘Which of the two did the father’s will?’ This is easy to answer – or so they think – and they say the first one. However, they are in for a shock because Jesus then goes on to tell them that sinners – tax collectors and prostitutes – will enter the kingdom of God before them, the supposed respectful people of the community. He says that they have had the example of John the Baptist but that they have not followed it whereas the sinners have listened and believed him. Having seen their example, the chief priests and elders have still not changed and come to believe in John.
One of the important things to note in this week’s Gospel is how the first son had a change of heart. Although he refused at first to do what his father wanted, he changed his mind. It is not always easy to change one’s mind or one’s stance. It takes courage, too, to admit that we are wrong or that we have made a mistake. I am sure we can think of examples in our own lives when we have realised that we have made a wrong choice and we have reversed our decision. We can be very quick to criticise others for changing their minds or their decisions but we should not judge them as usually we don’t know the full circumstances. There are many saints – in heaven and on earth – who have reversed not just their decisions but their whole lives. Saint Paul, Saint Oscar Romero and St. Augustine come readily to mind.
This week’s Gospel gives us an opportunity to reflect on decisions we have made. We must look honestly at them and if they are not the right ones, we must have the courage to change them. We can pray for the courage to do this and I am sure our prayers will not go unanswered.
Sr. Margaret Mattison