26th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel reminds us that being a Christian disciple is not merely a matter of words or lip service. It requires a heart full of humility, a recognition of what must be changed and an openness to live in new ways.
- To the point: In this Gospel, the first son’s initial answer to his father was honest (he never intended to be obedient), but he “changed his mind” and did what his father asked. By contrast, the second son’s seemingly obedient “Yes, sir” in fact was dishonest — he “did not go.” Jesus condemns the chief priests and elders’ behavior because of their utter dishonesty. Challenged by the “way of righteousness” of John, the sinful tax collectors and prostitutes (like the first son) change their behavior. Trapped in their self-righteousness, the chief priests and elders (like the second son) refuse to change. Changing one’s mind — choosing conversion of self — is a matter of utter honesty with self, God, and others.
- Connecting the Gospel (Matthew 21: 28-32) to the First Reading: St Paul emphasizes turning away from wickedness and doing good; one is judged by the final choice. This turning away is the change of mind that Jesus extolls in the gospel because it leads to the “way of righteousness.”
- Connecting the Gospel to experience: Change is difficult for everyone — house, job, schools, marital status, etc. Even more difficult is change of self — values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors. As difficult as this change is, it is an essential element of Christian discipleship.
He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went.
At times we refuse your asking.
We say no to what you bid,
but later we actually do as you ask.
And at other times we say yes, but alas,
our lives spell out a big no.
Jesus, please change our hearts,
change our minds to always say
yes to you. Help feet to follow words.
The First Reading
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.
Fondest Father, you have called us each by name,
and you ask us to walk, step by every step,
alongside you. Instead of running the other way,
let us go with you always with our hand in yours.
The Second Reading
(Philippians 2:1-11 or 2:1-5)
Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus …
Christ Jesus, let us share in your Spirit,
and be of one mind with you.
United in heart,in your love,
let us work to bring
justice that restores health
to all of our sisters and our brothers everywhere,
and to the planet that we all call home.
Copyright © 2023, Anne M. Osdieck
Music for reflection