01 Oct 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Dear OLPH Family and Friends,
Today’s Gospel skips over the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and moves us directly into His final teachings. Jesus tells today’s parable immediately after a debate with the chief priests and elders. When they challenged His authority, Jesus asked them to make a public statement about their opinion of John the Baptist. When they refused to be trapped into telling the truth, Jesus refused to answer their questions about Him.
Jesus wants to know, not just what the leaders of the temple thought back then, but what we think right now. You and I are both sons in the Parable. At times, we’re people who say all the right things, follow all the rules, profess what the Church teaches, and present ourselves as upstanding citizens for all to see. At other times, we change our minds and find ourselves slipping into behaviors that imply a denial of all that we profess to believe. In other words, we are the “Yes, sir” people who then “did not go” in today’s’ Gospel. At other times, we’re the people who resist what we know to be the right thing to do. We are the “I will not” person of today’s Gospel who “afterwards changed his mind and went.” Some of the time we are a mix. We say one thing and do another. Other times, we refuse to do the right thing, but then repent and seek forgiveness.
Where most of us have trouble is in the exact area that Jesus emphasized in the Gospel; that is, our attitudes and behaviors toward the very people Jesus said would be first in the Kingdom of God. Jesus proclaimed those thought to be “unclean”, the ignored, and those dismissed from the temple. Two thousand years later these same people are frequently thought to be “impure”; the homeless, the mentally ill, the imprisoned, the immigrants. Very few of us would admit to being racists or prejudiced but how many of us think, if not complain, that all these immigrants should go back to where they come from? These are the very ones Jesus embraced; the ones He allowed to wash His feet with their tears and dry them with their hair; the ones He told us would be first in the Kingdom of God.
In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul says “have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus…who…emptied Himself taking the form of a slave.” May God give us hearts for love shown in service to all in need!