Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Adam Royal
Vigésimo sexto Domingo del Tiemp Ordinario - Padre Adán Royal
Septiembre 26, 2020 - 7:00 PM
September 27, 2020 - 8:30 AM

Audio Recording

Grabación de Audio

There is something wrong with this parable. The parables of Jesus are always intended to solve some problem. They take all the characters and the issues at stake and represent them in a sort of earthy and folksy story. Seen in a new light, the problems and questions of humanity are found to have surprising, sometimes very surprising, answers. But that part, the answer, is where we find something wrong with this parable. It does not offer any answers. The parable, as written, is missing a conclusion. It just stops. One son said, “Yes,” to his father but then didn’t do the work. The other son said, “No,” but then did the work. And that, is the end of the parable. We are left wondering not only why did he bother giving this parable, but what happened to the two sons? I think Jesus leaves this parable incomplete on purpose. He doesn’t want to give us the answer; instead, he wants to draw us in and respond. He wants us to decide how we want the parable to end, that is in what world do we want to live.

Then Jesus changes the subject. “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.” Tax collectors and prostitutes, the dregs of society. They are the group of people to which no one wanted to be compared. Yet, Jesus says they are going ahead of the Pharisees into the Kingdom of God. Notice how he says it, “even when you saw them entering, you did not change.” Even when the Pharisees saw the worst of sinners changing their ways and finding mercy they did not join in. They continued to reject he message of John and Jesus.

And this is the conclusion of the parable. This is why it was left open. We have a choice. We can embrace the way of mercy where even the dregs of humanity can find a home or we can reject it and face the consequences, we can face God’s wrath. The key to understanding Jesus’ parable is to realize that everyone was guilty. Both sons were sinners. Likewise every single person hearing the parable, every person standing before Jesus was also guilty, and so are we. Whether we have heard the truth and lived contrary to it, or have lived far away from God and now recently found him, ultimately doesn’t matter. We are still in the same boat; we are guilty of disobeying God. If there is no room in God’s kingdom for tax collectors and prostitutes, then there is no room for us either. So Jesus leaves the parable open, open to the possibility of mercy. Jesus doesn’t want to complete the story because he will be forced to acknowledge that some will reject him and they will be punished. Jesus doesn’t want to punish anyone, he loves them all, he loves all of us, and he wants us to know the happiness that only he can give. But we must accept it. The tax collectors and prostitutes were quick to accept God’s kingdom, because they knew they needed mercy. Others were much slower, or even rejected the offer, because their pride stood in the way. They could not stand to see the truth, the truth of their own imperfections and sins. We cannot find God, we cannot find happiness so long as we cling to lies and delusions. We must come face to face with who we really are and be open to change, to be open to allowing God’s mercy to act within us and recreate us. Then, we will find a place in God