Beginning with this weekend and stretching through the Sundays of the month of October, the Lectionary goes with a different focus in Matthew’s Gospel. After his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus directs his parables to the religious leaders–at least as the evangelist relates it.
Will we find the reading before the homily difficult? An opportunity to jeer the bad guys? A head-scratching moment? It’s pretty easy this Sunday, another parable about two contrasting sons:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
Seems simple enough. Is it two changes of mind? Or a contrast between one kind of sin, a repented one, and another, a hidden one? Is it calling attention to once-faithful Israelites who so often fell into unfaithfulness, and comparing them to newcomers to the Gospel who readily embraced Jesus and his mission?
The James Tissot painting above seems to catch Jesus in the act of weighing one son and the other. We’ve all had moments of each in our lives, I would suggest. If this parable is about believers, does one experience outweigh the other in our history? More significantly, does one tip the scales more today than in the past?