Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary # 189. Tue of 3rd week of Advent. Zephaniah
3:1-2,9-13. Psalm 34:2-3,6-7.17-18.19.23. Matthew 21:9-13:
There is a beautiful insight of Paul about Jesus that helps us to frame the
reading from the Gospel today. Here is the citation in a more complete form
from Paul, "Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready
to say "Yes, yes" and No, no" at the same time? As surely as God is
faithful, our word to you has not been "Yes and No." For the Son of God,
Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was
not "Yes and No;"but in him is always "Yes." For in him everyone of God's
promises is a "Yes." For this reason it is through him that we say the
"Amen" to the glory of God." (II Corinthians 1:17-20).
Jesus is teaching the priests and leaders through a little comparison of
two sons who were asked to serve their father in the vineyard. The one
said "yes" but never entered into the work of harvesting the grapes; the
other, first said "no" but then changed his mind and went and helped those
others who were in the vineyard. We are familiar with this kind of
behavior in ourselves and maybe in children from time to time so Jesus is
also teaching us about an important lesson. Through the context of the
comparison and what follows Jesus is showing us that the Baptist brought
sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors to repent from their no and to
come to say yes to the Lord. Jesus is doing the same on a much larger and
more demanding level. He is calling for a "metanoia" or change of behaviror
and sinful patterns. It is a call to conversion and then to helping the
Lord in the vineyard.
Advent calls us to a change of heart and an openness to seeing things of
God in a new and brighter way. We can learn from the prophet Zephaniah
that as a remnant faithful to this call of saying yes to God we are on the
right path and are following the will of God. Then in our Psalm response
we realize that as the remnant, that is as the poor of God, we are being
heard. "The Lord hears the cry of the poor."
During this third week of Advent Jesus is asking us to say yes and to mean
it. We are to listen to the call to change and to change often and not
force God out of the picture through our own will and control devices in
prayer and in our interaction with each other. Remember that egoism comes
from the EGO (or I in Latin) and it can serve as an anacronym for "Edging
God Out" while Advent means to let God arrive and to enter into our hearts.
We are to "edge God in." John the Baptist is mentioned again and he was the
primary archetype of how to make the Lord increase while we decrease. We
therefore lay aside our "no's" to the Lord and say Amen, Yes, and I believe
to the Lord who is coming soon. Amen.
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