A Changing of Mindset for Better ...
Our Blessed Lord encountered stiff resistance from people whom he ordinarily thought would be more open to welcome him. The stiff opposition came from the nation’s religious and civic leaders chosen from among the higher-class people of the country. They were considered to be particularly well versed in their religious knowledge of the scripture and traditions. They parade themselves as upright and custodians of the law. Often, they have strict interpretation of the law and moral codes. These folks weigh significant power and their influence shape the Jewish nation’s traditions and laws. They were so hardened and so set in their ways. Prophet Ezekiel speaks of a change of mindset for better, which we would call conversion.
We cannot deny that Jesus’ teaching is not only new but revolutionary in the way it comprehends and applies to law. We too can fall into the same temptation of presumption and unwillingness to be taught. The chief priests and elders whom Jesus addresses in today’s gospel presumed that they know God’s mind. They were not open nor docile, and made no room to receive this new teaching that Jesus presents. In our society, his message of a new kingdom still meets stiff opposition and resistance.
Using a parable our Lord Jesus reveals to us what happens to those who take God’s teaching for granted and yield to their own wisdom and knowledge. In the story, a father who had two sons, who were old enough to work, asked them to help him with work. The two gave different responses to their father. The first son said he would not go, but afterwards changed his mind and went. While the second son who said that he will go, failed to go. Jesus ask his audience: “Which of the two did what the father wanted?” they reply, quite sensibly: “The first.” His audience knew that the story was addressed to them and were perhaps angry that Jesus thought more favorable of tax collectors and prostitutes. “Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you… Yet even when you saw that you did not repent.” It is fair to say that perhaps the tax collectors and prostitutes found in Jesus what they formerly had been looking for in sin.
Jesus speaks to us too; never pride yourself above others. Humility remains the hinges of our spiritual life. A humbled and contrite heart will always find favor with God. The first son who said no to his father’s order must have reflected on his disobedience for what it was, repented, and ended up obeying his father. Those labelled as sinners by the self-righteous religious leaders heard Jesus’ message too. They welcomed it and longed for a glimpse of God’s holiness proposed to them. Let us not be like that son that said yes, but failed to fulfil his promise.
In baptism, we enter into a special relationship with God. We became his adopted sons and daughters. There is no turning back. We cannot sneak out of our commitment. St. Paul encourages us to have the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus. For Jesus is more attractive than the allure of sin. Seek the Lord.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Vitalis Anyanike, Pastor