Message 0054 – September 24, 2020
September 25, 2020
Message 0056 – September 27, 2020
September 28, 2020

Matthew 21:28-32 26th Sunday OT Year A

26th Sunday OT Year A
Ezekiel 18:25-28
Philippians 2:1-11
Matthew 21:28-32

A. Text/Context

  • So we have heard in the gospel the parable of the two sons directed to the priests and elders in the temple
  • Let us first take a look at the cultural background of this parable and let us set our minds to the culture of the Mediterranean people in the Middle east including Palestine the place of the
  • modern day country of Israel
  • So the father commanded to the first son go out and work in the vineyard today
  • The first son replied I will not but he changed his mind and worked
  • Then the father commanded the second son to go out and work in the vineyard and the son said yes I will go but he did not go
  • And Jesus asked the question which of the two did the will of his father?
  • For us certainly, if we will follow the standards of being obedient to the parents, we will say that it is the first son who said no I will not go but later changed his mind and he goes to the vineyard is the obedient one
  • But according to the standards of the Jewish culture it is the second son who said yes I will go but the truth is that the son did not really go to work in the fields
  • The second son is a liar but the father is more pleased with the second son because of honor. The father is saved from embarrassment to those who heard because his command is followed even at least in words and not in actions
  • Honor is more important. It is honorable that they are respected. Even if you lie to save from shame it is honorable
  • But this is not what Jesus meant in the parable. The question is which of the two did the will of the father it is not which of the two is honorable to the father
  • Naturally, they answered the first son because although he refused in the beginning but he changed his mind later
  • So here we see that the priests and the elders in the temple really knew what is the right thing to do when it comes to obedience
  • But what they are doing is the opposite. They have already heard the preaching of John the Baptist to repent and renew their lives but they did not listen
  • That is why the gospel ends with Jesus telling them that the tax collectors and prostitutes who are sinners are entering the Kingdom of God before you because the sinners listened to John and they repented of their sins and renewed their lives but the elders in the temple did not because they simply ignored the preaching of John the Baptist

B. Human Situation

  • So in our ordinary life as Christians, we value honor so much as much as the Jews value honor during the biblical times in the NT
  • But it is very clear in the gospel that honor is a value as shown by the second son who lied to his father
  • But there is a greater value than honor in the gospel and that is the value of obedience to the will of the Father because obedience is an expression of love
  •  So the value of the love of God is far much greater than the value of honor
  • In our lives as Christians more often there is a clash of these values: between the value of honor and value of the love of God
  • And because of our human weakness there are times that we value more public honor than love of God or fear of God
  • Very common in this is the teenage pregnancies. The typical boy meets girl profess love to each other, and the two consume the sexual act even without the benefit of a sacramental marriage
  • Girl becomes pregnant, the boy disappears because either the son or the daughter do not really love each other or the parents do not want their son or daughter to marry each other because they are not yet prepared and for many other reasons behind
  • And in a worst scenario, abortion happens in secret because either the parents of both parties or the boy suggests to the girl or the pregnant girl herself is so ashamed of what the public will say about the situation
  • There is now an enormous pressure exerted on the part of the girl or the family of the girl. And so in order to save everybody from shame and dishonor abortion occurs
  • This is a case when we value public honor more rather than value fear or love of God
  • We choose to commit a crime against the innocent so that the honor of the family will not be besmirched
  • We choose to commit a horrible sin before the eyes of God in order that the reputation of the family will not be stained or tainted
  • We prioritize a twisted value and this is all wrong. The right thing to do is really to continue the pregnancy no matter what the public will say
  • If the boy disappears because he is so scared of his responsibilities; then, forget about the boy, he will be haunted by the guilt of conscience forever. That is the price he gets for escaping his responsibility
  • The girl must continue with the new gift of life now pulsating in her womb. The gossips of friends and neighbors will be there and it’s really a torture to our reputation
  • But believe me, in about 2 or 3 months, mahabana ang isangtaon, the people will stop talking about the scandal it will just die a natural death after the curiosity of the people is satisfied
  • It is just very normal that we suffer from our mistakes but for sure it will just be temporary, it will not last forever. We will still be happy inspite of the shame and humiliation that we experience because of the mistakes we did
  • This is a reminder to the parents who have teenaged sons and daughters. The period of adolescence is difficult. The bodies of teenagers are ready for reproduction but their minds and their whole psychology are not prepared for marriage
  • Both the boy and the girl suffer from the situation
  • What is the message of the first reading in the prophet Ezekiel? If a man turns away from the wickedness he committed he shall surely live
  • The God that we have is so understanding and forgiving. He is always ready to welcome us back to his fold
  • There is always hope of renewal in the terrible mess that we are in because of the consequence of our sins
  • And in the second reading to the Philippians St. Paul reminds us that Jesus has undergone terrible humiliation, terrible suffering but God has exalted him
  • And so does to us. God will elevate us from the shame of dishonor if we choose to do and follow his will

C. Challenge

  • This is the challenge that the gospel brings us today. We are reminded that more often than not the values of the world are twisted
  • We suffer from a double standard because society, including friends or even families judge or look differently our human situation
  • We are reminded that the standard of God is very different from the standard of the world
  • It is always good to value public honor but if it comes in contradiction with our love of God and love of neighbor then we must choose the higher value and that is the value of the love of God
  • We are reminded that as Christians, no matter how much shame, humiliation, and dishonor we suffer under the eyes of the criticizing public God will always be there to save us from destruction
  • Let us not be like the elders in the temple who simply ignore the warnings of repentance. Let us be like the first son who initially said no but later said yes
  • The dishonor and shame that we experience in our life from time to time serves as a kind of reminder to us that there is always hope even after a wrong decision
  • That there is always light at the end of a dark tunnel

 

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