Gospel Reflection: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute



OCTOBER 1, 2017


My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord,

I know them, and they follow me.



A reading from the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew:  21: 28-32

Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you!

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 he 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.

The Gospel of the Lord



This week’s Gospel presents Jesus engaged in a testy exchange with the chief priests and elders of the people.  Using the image of a vineyard as the setting of the story, there is a deliberate connection made to the Gospel reading of last weekend. However, today’s story becomes more personalized by having the landowner as a father, and the laborers as his two sons.  Like last week the landlord, or better yet, the Lord of the Land, dispatches workers into His ministry of salvation.

The reason for the tension between Jesus and the religious leaders is made clear at the end of the Gospel reading — the chief priests and elders are stubborn to the point of being obstinate.  They are like the son who lied to his father by enjoying his father’s blessings but never working on the father’s behalf.  In this way, Jesus challenged the elders’ shallow commitment to doing of the work of God.

In addition, with authority, Jesus points out that the leaders saw others who they considered spiritually inferior to themselves seeking forgiveness, but they themselves refused to have a conversion of heart: — even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.  The leaders preferred to remain enslaved in their own self-righteousness.   By asking them: What is your opinion, Jesus allows the chief priests to impeach themselves!

As a Faithful Son, Jesus continues his journey toward Jerusalem, the place where He will dramatically fulfill His commitment to His Father by in-fleshing His yes with His Passion and Death.  In this way, Jesus instructs us that we too must place our faith into action; our word of yes must be accompanied by acts of service on behalf of the Kingdom of God.  Not just saying yes, but doing the will of the Father!

In addition to this parable, in the next two weeks Matthew’s Gospel will provide two additional parables, the Wicked Vinedressers, and the Wedding Feast.  All three parables press home the same fundamental principle that actions speak louder than words.   Biblical Faith demands both verbal commitment and tangible witness in service of God and neighbor.  This week’s parable of the Two Sons provides both a warning and a consolation depending on the listener’s spiritual attitude.   Jesus trapped the religious leaders in their own dishonesty, and at the same time He consoled and encouraged those who sought God’s forgiveness, who opened themselves up to God’s Word, and who attempted to live according to His Word.

The Father expects more than lip-service from His sons and daughters.  Neither son in the parable had it all-together.  How does this parable provide an opportunity for an examination of conscience in terms of saying yes, and meaning it?   What can you do to become a more integrated, authentic disciple who both says yes and follows through with the yes?



Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

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