HOMILY FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A)
By: Father Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA
HOMILY THEME: My Word, My Bond
In today’s gospel reading (Matthew 21:28–32), Jesus asks the chief priests and elders their opinion about a parable of a father who asks his two boys to work in his vineyard. The first son’s action is proof that only those who “walk their talk,” or, to sound theological, only those who do God’s will, will enter God’s kingdom (Matthew 7:21).
A parable is like an argument in that it makes listeners think about what they hear and make a judgment about it. And this is precisely what Jesus accomplishes with today’s parable by comparing the chief priests and elders to tax collectors and prostitutes.
The first son says an honest “no” to his father’s request. His refusal is a shameful insult to his father because he should obey him. Later, he feels bad about what he said and goes to work in his father’s vineyard. The second son readily agrees to do what his father asks, but it turns out that his “yes” was just an empty promise; he didn’t follow through.
Jesus then asks the chief priests and elders, “Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answer, “The first.” Jesus now shows them how they are like the second son and how tax collectors and prostitutes, whom they hated and ostracized, are like the first son.
Tax collectors and prostitutes were considered shameful by Jewish religious and civil leaders, especially by the chief priests and elders. But they were the people who repented of their sinful ways when they heard John the Baptist’s call to repentance.
Tax collectors and prostitutes were accused of collaborating with the Romans. While tax collectors were accused of collaborating with the Romans through employment in the imperial tax system, prostitutes were accused of providing sexual services to Roman soldiers.
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In essence, Jesus is saying that the chief priests and elders are like the second son, who says “yes” but does nothing. They claim that they are doing God’s will, but they totally ignored John the Baptist’s call to repentance. But the tax collectors and prostitutes are like the first son, who said “no” but later repented. So, they would go into the kingdom of heaven before the chief priests and elders.
We can all be guilty, like the second son in today’s parable, of saying “yes” to God, even to our neighbors, but not doing God’s will or following through on what we have promised. After all, it is far easier to say the right words but not follow through on them. According to the adage, “action speaks louder than words.” In other words, “talk is cheap, but actions are priceless.”
You could ask yourselves some fundamental questions today. Are you still faithful to your “yes” to God in baptism? Am I still faithful to my ordination promises? Are you still faithful to your religious vows and values? Are you still faithful to your marital promises? Are you still faithful to your professional contracts? In other words, is your word your bond?
Nowadays, everyone talks about how difficult it is to find someone whose word is their bond. But there is still a way out, so all hope is not lost. If you can’t find those who honor their promises, be one, and people will find you. Who knows? They may decide to pay it forward.
After all, goodness spreads like wildfire. One good deed may multiply and spread from person to person. In this way, we will actively repopulate our society with people of honor and integrity.
Today, we are challenged to pause and consider how we have acted like the second son in today’s parable. We are urged to allow Jesus to confront us at any point in our lives where we have said ‘yes’ to God but then turned away
Let us pray for the strength to let our “yes” to God impact who we are and the decisions we make. May our word be our bond through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
October 1, 2023
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