Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 1, 2017

October 1, 2017


October 1, 2017

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time





I'd like begin by calling to mind the words of the today's Psalm, before we break open Matthew's Gospel.

R. Remember your mercies, O Lord. Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. R. Remember your mercies, O Lord. Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice,  and teaches the humble his way.

R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

These words from Jesus today, were spoken first to the chief priests and elders. Jesus at this point in his earthly ministry has fed the thousands, has walked on water has demonstrated that he is a teacher and preacher like no other, giving us the beatitudes.

All along the way he has been warning his disciples about these very chief priests and elders. These would be the ones that would hand him over; under their authority he would suffer and die.

So here we are. He has made his way to Jerusalem. He has ridden in on a donkey to the cries of children singing out:

            Hosanna, to the son of David!

He cleansed the temple, made it again a sacred place for healing and for teaching. And after he did all of this -- as he has stepped fully into his authority as the Son of God, as the master teacher and preacher -- the chief priests and elders ask him, just before this passage:

            "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"

This is the question they have just asked him. And he responds with a parable--this parable that holds up a mirror to us this morning, just as it held up a mirror to the chief priests and elders.

What is this parable of the two sons? 

The one who first says, "Oh no, I'm not doing that. I'm not going to go out and do the work in the vineyard."

Maybe some of us can resonate with that in our own spiritual journey, our walk with God -- that when God calls us our first instinct is to say, "Oh no, I'm not going there to do that work."

I think of my three-year-old son, who -- every single time his older sister asks him to share something-- the first response he always has is "No!" But if you just wait a few moments, you'll see the wheels turning, he'll often change his mind, reaching out to say, “Here Micaela, I'm ready to share."

So this parable of the first son reveals that God knows that often our first response is to say, "No way." And so God waits, and in God's mercy gives us the space and grace to make another choice, to go out and in fact, work in the vineyard.

This brings us to the second son, the son who says, “Yes," but then doesn't go.

How many of us have said our "yes" to God -- have met our Sunday obligation all these years, have served on parish councils, have taught the baptismal prep classes. We are saying “yes,” desiring to do this work in the fields... but find ourselves maybe growing stale, or feeling overwhelmed? What good could this “yes” do in a world that seems hell-bent on violence and death dealing? Where is this authority of Jesus that he seems to be professing and inviting us to.

“Sure, Jesus, yes. But I need a break. (I heard about a new show on Netflix that I think I need to catch…)

“So yes...but...but, I'm going to stay home.”

Maybe some of us are feeling convicted and challenged by this second son in the story.

When Jesus asks these chief priests which one does the will of the father. They get it right. They often knew the right answers, the right way to do things: The first one. That's who does the will of the father.

And Jesus responds, Yes! Can't you see, my authority here... on whose authority do I preach and teach and heal and set free? Somehow my authority is bound up here on earth, in your willingness to go and do the work in the fields.

What an awesome and terrifying mystery this is! Jesus gestures in this parable that somehow his authority here on earth is deeply bound to our own willingness to turn and do the work in the vineyard.

So hear this good news this morning: In a world that tries to lock us in to different factions and divisions, parties and roles, to convince us that the only way to be in the world is to exercise our little bit of authority over those who might be under us... it's not too late to chose a different way.

If we said no, it's not too late to turn and believe. And go do the work that God is calling us to do – God’s work of healing and love, of care and welcome of the stranger.

If you said, “Yes,” but maybe have been hedging, afraid to take a risk and step out, and stretch, it's not too late to embody that yes -- to let it live and trust that God does go with us, that God promises to go with us, that the God who remembers his mercy, shows us the way.

"Yet even when you saw that you did not later change your minds and believe him."

This morning may we hear God's invitation to turn and change our minds.


First Reading

Ez 18:25-28


Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Second Reading

Phil 2:1-11


Mt 21:28-32
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Casey Stanton

Casey Stanton

Casey Stanton is the co-director of Discerning Deacons, a project serving the Church by engaging Catholics in the active discernment around women and the diaconate. She most recently served as Adult Faith Formation minister at Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, North Carolina. She holds a BA from the University of Notre Dame, and a Masters of Divinity from Duke Divinity School where she graduated with a certificate in prison studies. Casey spent a decade working in the field of faith-based organizing where she witnessed the impact of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development as a key anchor in efforts to promote the common good and seek justice for those on the margins. Casey is proud to make a home in Durham NC with her husband Felipe, their two children Micaela and Teddy (and “Baby Synod” who is due to arrive in mid-October, 2023!) She is inspired by Pope Francis’ vision for a synodal church, and believes this synod is an invitation for each of us to recognize ourselves as pilgrims walking together in equal dignity, seeking communion.


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