In the past, I often struggled with today’s Gospel, I thought, wrongly that Jesus was criticising the chief priests and the elders for getting the answer to his question on the two brothers wrong. However, Jesus is not criticising their answer for being wrong, He is criticising them because they get their words right; but their actions wrong. Today’s parable is aimed at these same ‘chief priests and elders of the people.’ They did not listen to John the Baptist who preached the coming of the kingdom, and thus did not respond; whereas ‘the tax collectors and prostitutes’ did listen and did respond. Like the words of Ezekiel; in the first reading; addressed to the leaders of Israel, Jesus insists that only an honest acceptance of the call and a response of conversion is adequate.

We also hear in the passage from Ezekiel, that this response will always be accepted; , regardless of the delay or the history of those called. The son who refused to go into the vineyard; like the hated tax collectors and despised prostitutes; in the end did accept the call and respond. The condemnation of the elders is both that they did not listen to John, nor did they allow the witness of repentance of sinners make them ‘think better of it’ and change their minds -which is what repentance means.1

The message is clear for all of us, Jesus is more interested in what we do than what we say.

Do we come to Mass each week praising God, and then with the same lips, create havoc in our household saying one thing and doing another?

Do we to come to God’s Altar to receive the Eucharist, but fail to share a meal civilly with our family at home?

I know that it can be difficult living in a family, I often joke that I would hate to live with me. I can be moody and self-centred, demanding my own way and not prepared to listen at times. This can either lead to stony silence or periods of challenge, where I am left in no doubt that I have been selfish or moody and need to remember that things are not ‘all about me’, at these times I need to decide whether I want to live out the Gospel, which I proclaim, or live life to my own agenda. [Another example of saying one thing and doing another]

Jesus is asking us to only talk the talk but to also walk the talk. If we are followers of Jesus, He is asking us to always follow Him; not just when we are at Mass or when we feel like it. Just like the parable today, Jesus is asking us to follow the will of the Father. He gave us the greatest example of this just before He was taken prisoner the night before He died when He said “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.”

The words in the second reading are beautiful, St Paul, writing to the followers in Philippi, asking them to put others first, to be self-effacing, consider the other person better than oneself, asking us to be the same as Jesus, putting ourselves at the service of others, humbly bearing whatever we are asked to bear. If we can do that then God will raise us high because we have bent our knee at the name of Jesus and acclaimed Him as Christ the Lord by our words and by our deeds.

We are all aware that these are difficult times, for many the cost-of-living crisis has hit hard, some people are struggling and we are all called to try and help where we can. We have invited an organisation called Christians Against Poverty to come to St Bede’s Church to provide Money Coaching Sessions on how to manage money. This is not just for those who are struggling, but for anyone who would like to know how to make their money go further. The sessions are free and each session will start with a free meal. They will be held on Thursday evenings starting on the 2nd November with follow up sessions on the 9th, 16th and 23rd. Spaces are limited, so, we are encouraging people to book their place early. There are leaflets available after Mass at St Bede’s this weekend and posters in the entrance for more information. Or you can have a chat with me or Pam after Mass. [Places can be booked at Get to grips with your finances | CAP UK]

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

CCC 1807: just person distinguished by habitual rectitude toward others
CCC 2842: only Holy Spirit can give us the mind of Christ
CCC 1928-1930, 2425-2426: the obligation of social justice
CCC 446-461: the Lordship of Christ
CCC 2822-2827: “Thy will be done”

For more information on Money Coaching Money coaching | CAP UK | CAP UK

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • Black History Month, which starts today, may the focus on what has happened in the past lead to a brighter future for race relations.
  • The success of the Money Coaching sessions, which are coming to St Bede’s.

1 Robert Draper, Breaking the Word Sundays, Pastoral Review Vol 19 Issue 4, [The Tablet Publishing Company, London, 2023]75.