Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about obedience to the will of God and obedience to what He had taught us to do. He pointed out those who pretended to listen and obey, but in the end, never actually obeyed what the Lord had taught them to do, and then compared these to those who did not seem to listen but eventually obeyed and listened to God and do His will.
What Jesus had done in the Gospel today was to establish the common perceptions and prejudices of the time, and the divisions that exist between the Jews, the people of Israel, who regarded themselves as a chosen race and a chosen people, having descended directly from Abraham and Jacob, and who had been brought out of Egypt by the power of God Himself, and who received the Promised Land, the sign of God’s faithfulness to His promise to Abraham, and the people who are non-Jews and generally called the Gentiles.
The Gentiles were all the people who lived around and with the Jews at the time, consisting of the Samaritans, Nabateans, Egyptians, the Arabs, the Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Romans, and many other nations, including all those whom we heard to be at Jerusalem during the Pentecost. They were looked down by the Jews, since they thought that these people, being not part of the ‘chosen race’, they were not worthy of salvation, as they were pagans and not believing in God, their One and only God.
Yet, what Jesus sought to challenge was this perception, which was really false and misleading. What He mentioned as the son who listened and heard the word of the father, but never actually obeyed and did the work asked of him, referred to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law and many of those who held the view and attitude that they were above others because they were part of the chosen ones, and thus according to them, deserved salvation while others did not.
The son who did not listen but eventually did the work as his father had commanded him, represented the Gentiles and all the people whom the Jews considered as pagans including the prostitutes and tax collectors from among themselves, and whom they condemned as damned. Yet, it is among these people that the words of Jesus and the teachings of the Faith found strong roots, and the people who heard them truly listened, changed their ways and found redemption in Christ. They were the son who did not listen, precisely because they did not have the opportunity to listen to the word of God before the coming of the Christ in Jesus.
There were also some among the Jews who believed in Jesus and in His teachings, but many especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were ardently against Him and attempted to even undermine His efforts and good works among the people. This is truly the son who had the opportunity to listen to the word and commands of the father but refused to do the work according to what he had been told.
The people of Israel had had so many opportunities that God had given to them, by the sending of the numerous prophets and messengers of God’s will to them, who spoke to them and urged them to repent from their sins, and yet they refused to listen. Remember the parable of the tenants of the vineyard? In that parable, the tenants refused to pay the proceeds agreed between them and the owner, and they persecuted and even murdered the servants sent to remind them.
And in the parable, when the owner sent his own son to remind the tenants, they murdered him as well. This is the same as how the Pharisees and the elders rejected Jesus and loathed what He taught them. Indeed, they preferred to remain in their sinful pride and greed rather than to accept the grace and forgiveness of God. And God who will judge all according to their deeds, will hold them accountable for all of their sinful deeds.
What is the lesson for us today, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is that we should never allow our pride and greed to blind us to the love and truth of Christ. We have to submit ourselves humbly to the will of God and commit ourselves to do His will dutifully, just as the latter son had done. We cannot be prejudiced just simply because we have faith in God and thus think that we are then safe from all harm. Yes, faith alone is not enough as faith without good works is dead.
We have to show our faith in our actions and in all of our deeds, so that all who sees us will then know that we truly belong to the Lord. Jesus had commissioned His Apostles and disciples to go and spread the Good News to all of the world and to baptise all peoples of all the nations in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But how are we to persuade others to believe if we ourselves do not practice what we believe in?
Let this Advent be a time of prayer, reflection and sincere preparation of ourselves, of our body, heart and mind so that we may truly live out our lives in faith and that we all may become good examples and role models of the faith, so as to bring many more souls to salvation. Do not become disobedient like the former son who listened but never did what his father wanted, but instead be obedient and be faithful to God, our loving Father, who will reward us for our living faith. God bless us all. Amen.
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