Mt 21:23-27 Two Beginnings, Only One Good Ending
Lord, increase my faith for I long to see your face!
Let’s get right down to it. We have all been in this situation before. We are asked to do something for someone and we end up either doing it or doing nothing. Once again, the Lord, our God, is a demanding God. He does not settle for lip service but for actual service.
The “Yes” Man. Immediately we see the meaning of this parable. On the one hand we have the chief priests and the elders of the people. On the other hand, we have the tax collectors and the prostitutes. The authorities have received everything from the Father. They have authority to speak in God’s name. They have said “yes” to God but only with their lips. They are “cradle Jews”, and this is as far as their faith takes them. They are powerful. They have authority and they have too much to lose. The Baptist was a threat to their leadership, their privileges and their status among the people. He was a threat.
The “No” Man. This son immediately says, “No, forget it. I’m not changing. You can take your bible and shove it you know where!” And yet his anger, his bitterness is not pointed towards the Father, but towards himself. He thinks he has been suckered! Somehow, he feels he has been wronged by God. But, regardless of all of this, he gives the Lord another chance. He decides to do the Father’s Will, to take a leap of faith. This son is good in heart and has been slapped in the face before. And yet, he is still good in heart. These are the prostitutes and the tax collectors; abused from childhood, raised in a dysfunctional family, living among the dead, lepers in heart and soul. The last shall become first. The forgotten ones are getting their names written in the book of life. They are being talked about more than any others. They are entering the Kingdom of Heaven in droves, and before us! From humiliation to exultation! They are coming to John, seeking forgiveness, and receiving it!
What can we learn from these two? Those who put God first in their lives…Do you know what He will do to for them? The answer is obvious. He will put them first in His life!
He will raise you from the dead. He will heal your broken heart. He will remind you of who you are: “You are my beautiful gift to the world.”
The Lord invites us to carry our cross. Yes, pick up your cross and follow my example. Yes, I know it is advent. But advent begins with a little Lenten service – a penitential service. You should never carry the cross of your own sins! These sins must be forgiven in Confession. Carry this cross and it only leads to Hell!
The Lord invites us to carry a different cross. He carried ours. Now, we must carry others. Carry the cross that occurs from fidelity to His Will, misunderstanding of His love, rejection of love from another, etc… Carry the cross due to your love and fidelity towards God and man.
The moral of this story is beautiful: You can never go wrong by doing what is right. Every time you say “yes” to God and do it, you are in good company – either hugged by God or hanging next to him on your cross.