We are approaching the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the last Sunday in the month of September, when we hear the Gospel parable about two sons. I invite you to ponder the following reflection.
“The teenage daughter said that she was staying out late and not to expect her home until midnight. Her parents told her to be home by ten, to which she replied, “Whatever.” Later that night, around five minutes to ten, she came home. The parents were a bit puzzled and said, “Home already?” She replied, “Well, you said be home by ten.” There is a difference between saying and doing, as reflected in today’s gospel. The parable (cf. Matt 21:33, 45) Jesus utters today is in the Jerusalem temple in the context of a dialogue, or verbal jousting match really, between Jesus and the chief priests and the elders of the people. In the story we are approaching Holy Week, though liturgically we are in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time. This section of the gospel is the first of three parables, which we will read liturgically in successive weeks: the two sons, the evil tenants, and the royal wedding feast.
As with all of Jesus’ parables, the meaning of the “two sons” parable today is polyvalent. We can understand it in numerous ways, and this is precisely why the device of “parable” is so effective as a teaching tool. One apparent meaning is the favorite Matthean theme of doing versus saying (cf. Matt 7:21-23; 12:50; 23:3-4). Matthew’s contention throughout the gospel is that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father, which is to act mercifully particularly to those in need.
Have you ever met a flatterer, or people pleaser? Those who say what you want to hear but have no intention of following through? Or those who over-promise and under-deliver? It can be challenging to hear the words of Jesus in the parable today about such behaviors. Despite our best intentions, it is our actions that truly mean more than our words. Without actions, our words are a “clanging gong,” to use a term from St. Paul. There are many reasons why we might over-promise, but we are reminded of another saying in the gospels: “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean No’” (Matt 5:37). At some level, this is simply good advice from Jesus the teacher. As we go about our lives, let us make an extra effort to think carefully before we commit ourselves or say we will do something. Simply modifying a commitment with the words “I intend to . . .” or “I’ll make my best effort to . . .” may be all we need to temper expectations. By avoiding the trap of being a people-pleaser, flatterer, or one who over-promises, and instead being a person of action and doing on behalf of others, we will be living the gospel message.” (Living Liturgy 2020)
Last Sunday students from St. Clare of Assisi School received the sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time. Congratulations to all of them and their parents on this joyful occasion, and many thanks to the teachers and principal for assisting us with welcoming the families and helping to sanitize the pews after the Mass. This Sunday we welcome students from St. Francis Xavier School at the 4pm Mass for their 1st Holy Communion.
Tomorrow, September 26, the Feast of Canadian Martyrs, our Fr. Claude celebrates his 70th birthday. We congratulate him on this beautiful occasion, wishing him many blessings of good health of mind and body and pray for him to continue his priestly ministry among us. I invite you to send Fr. Claude a little message to his email to say “hello” and Happy Birthday. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please know that if you cannot join us for Mass in person at this time, you are invited to tune in to our Sunday Mass live-stream that starts with the Rosary at 8:30AM, followed by the Mass at 9AM, which you can accessed by clicking on the picture below.