Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

A reading of the holy Gospel according to Matthew   21:28-32
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:  "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.'  The son said in reply, 'I will not,' but afterwards he 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?"  They answered, "The first."  Jesus said to them, "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."  
I never understood this parable until this morning while pondering how I was going to write this.  I always imagined Jesus' response to them being a rebuke for answering the question incorrectly.  It wasn't the question they responded to incorrectly.  It was John the Baptist they failed to respond to.    And now I have another parable to take great comfort in.  Being late to the party, having said "no" early in life, I am so frightened that I am too late.  That my earlier "no" counts more than my later "yes."  But there is more than one parable in which Jesus tells me this is not so.

It appears I am going into my annual weeping mode. Last night during the lecture at Biblical School I fought tears the entire time.  During our closing prayer, there were tears streaming down my face.  Stories of changed hearts do this to me.   I know that I cannot change my heart, I know that no one else can either.  Only by divine intervention does my heart change.  I heard a story last night of a child being cruel and causing great pain to another.  In a flash, he could see what he was doing was wrong, and changed it immediately.  And gave the credit to Christ, because he knew he was not able to do this.  His best efforts had him being a hurtful bully.  But God was able to change his heart.

I pray to Our Lord to change my heart to conform to his will.


  1. At one time I thought a change of heart was a one off event. I now think "metanoia" is more like a process over a life-time.

  2. I have found that parable confusing myself, but earlier this year I came across and I finally got it. Jesus's response of tax collectors and prostitutes seems to come from nowhere, but it makes total sense. They have changed their mind. And more importantly their hearts.

    I have to agree with Paul. Through repentance and prayer and sacrements, we do over time change our hearts. As Catholics we believe in the power of the free will to embrace God's grace. We usually need a process (prayer, sacrements, church, etc) to help us, but we can do it. God bless Mary, I'm a late relgious myself.

  3. Mary, as you know I too came "late" to the feast, but alas, I am here now. And even still I do not follow God's Will, sometimes living in defiance without giving it a thought. I struggle at times with God's forgiveness, and self-forgiveness.

    It is comforting to know that Jesus forgives those who come to Him, ask for forgiveness and show a contrite heart. Coming to that point of real contrition, however is a process. I believe He will heal us when we're ready to be healed on His terms.

  4. There must be some strange weeping thing going around lately because I've caught myself doing this a lot lately, too. Thanks for the excellent post!