Homily September 28, 2014 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Putting today’s gospel in context, Jesus had entered Jerusalem triumphantly, had cleaned out the temple, so to speak, by getting rid of all the tradesmen and sellers and turning over the money makers tables. He had also cursed the fig tree that had no figs. The pharisees and priest and elders were really upset with him and very jealous of his popularity. It is in the context of all this that this parable was spoken. In the middle east, even today, honor and appearance and respect are important. Other people’s view and perception was and is important in social standing and respect and daily life. Society very much controlled what was legitimate and respectful. Thus in the parable and even in that culture today, the second son who said “I will” and then ignored his Father’s request would have been seen as the one who honored and respected his Father and of course upheld the family’s standing in the community. For most listening that would have been their concern and their answer that number 2 son honored his Father. But Jesus did not ask the question which honored the Father, rather He asked, “which son did the will of the Father?”
Here is where the pharisees and priests and elders get angry. It is easy to say yes but then go about as you will. But Jesus was a man who was consorting with what they consider the dregs of their time: tax collectors, prostitutes and all other kind of sinners. John the Baptist, prophets? No they had their scrolls and the comfort of the temple and the respect they thought gave them immunity from being caring and human. Changing and doing God’s will was something that had been somehow hidden from them or forgotten in their lives.
Which brings us to ask today: which brother are we? Are we somewhere in the middle or are we like the pharisees and elders just cruising on appearance, comfortable and going through the motions? Doing God’s will is more than just saying yes, it is a call to action, to reach out, to share and celebrate God’s love. It is a grand plan but it is simply one act, one thing at a time. We are called to do what we can do, nothing beyond the possible. If we follow Jesus then it should show in how and who we are. Jesus was attacked for who his friends were but certainly not for who he was. I think the pharisees and priests and elders were afraid of what they saw and their ability to measure up to Jesus. His presence made their faults obvious and challenged their comfort. I think this then is a good reminder to look within and ask are we doing all that we should?