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  • Sacred Heart Church

09.27.2020 Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Updated: Oct 9

The Parable of the Two Sons




Andrei Mironov

(1975 - )



Andrai’s father was a Soviet Military Officer. Born in Ryazan, he moved with his family to Ivdel (Sverdlkvsk Oblast) in 1983. He graduated from a local Secondary School in 1990 and in the same year he returned to his native city. One year later, he began to study at the PTU-3 in Ryazan. In the meantime, Mironov prepared himself to enter the Ryazan College of Art. However, because of his conscription into the Russian Army, he received his diploma in Industrial Design before completing the full PTU program. He took part in the First Chechen War. After the war, he chose the career of a Military Officer.

Being self-educated in painting, he worked as a portrait artist after 2005. Already in 2007, he won the title "Profi" at Russian Art Week in Moscow. Later he participated in many exhibitions.

He defined Christianity as "the main theme of his oeuvres”. Some critics compare the "strangeness" of his paintings with the impression of the Old Masters' works.

Today his paintings are found in private collections, in the Kashira History Museum, (Russia).

Since 2008 he is a member of the Moscow Union of Artists’ International Art Foundation.


Lectio

Matthew 21:28-32


[Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:] 28 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I will go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first’. Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw this, you did not change your minds and believe him’”.


Meditatio

The Context

We have crossed the threshold of Holy Week in the Gospel of Matthew and now step in the last days of the life of Jesus.

In Chapter 21 Jesus enters Jerusalem and then goes into the Temple where He, filled with zeal for the ‘House of God’ overturned the tables of the money changers. By doing so, Jesus opened the doors of the Temple to the ‘blind and the lame’, who were cured and restored to their dignity as equal members of the kingdom of God.

Jesus reacts to the interrogation of the ‘chief priests and elders of the people’ about his authority, with a question about John the Baptist[1]. The ‘chief priests and elders’ refused to answer him. Jesus therefore tells them this Parable to confront their obstinacy and lack of belief in Him.

The kingdom of God will increase and spread through the faith of the destitute and the marginalized, not through the unbelief of the rulers and the authorities of the time.

This Parable is found only in the Gospel of Matthew, although we do find references to Jesus talking about the tax collectors and prostitutes in the Gospel of Luke[2].

The Father

In the Parable none of the two sons behaves with due respect to their Father.

We can perceive a sense of “excessive respect” when the second son treats the Father with a courtesy that does not reflect an affectionate relationship with him, by calling him ‘Sir’… unlike Jesus who calls Him ‘Abba’.

The Parable teaches us that ‘promises’ can never take the place of performance, and fine words are never a substitute for fine deeds … The Christian way is in performance and not in ‘promises’, and the mark of a Christian is obedience[3] to a loving Father”.

The Father treats each one of his sons personally, one by one, talking to them as if each of them were his only son.

The two sons

This story is about the Old and the New Testaments and how the audience of Jesus accepted or rejected the Good News (Jesus himself).

The Jews are the People of God who responded positively to the Covenant in the Old Testament. However, the Prophets testify to the many times they failed to be faithful.

The last of the Prophets, John the Baptist announced that, once again, the People of Israel needed conversion. He addressed harsh words to the religious leaders of his time.

Like the second of the sons in the Parable, they said one thing but then failed to keep their word. On the other hand, the Members of the Christian Communities in the New Testament came from all walks of life. Following the example of Jesus, sinners and publicans, pagans and irreligious people alike were invited to work in the ‘Vineyard’ of the Lord. They might have not received an early call, or they might even have refused conversion in the first place, but eventually they joined the Community.

Jesus, purposely speaks of them in the first place (the first son), to prove that God will entrust to them the Keys of the Kingdom. They are the New Israel.

The answer to the call of God

However, in Jesus’ Parable none of the sons offered the ideal response to the call of the Father. One because he was inconsistent by refusing to work in the first place, and the second because he was inconsistent by not keeping his word.

Jesus invites the second (Jewish leaders) to “convert and believe in the Gospel”[4].

He favours the one who eventually did the Father’s will, thus giving encouragement to the newly converted, notwithstanding their previous way of life or their previous refusal to believe in Him.

The perfect answer

The Third Son, unspoken of in the Parable, is Jesus Himself. He is the perfect answer to the divine will of the Father. He is the model of perfection standing right in front of the elders of the people and the scribes, talking to them.

The message of Jesus is as clear for his audience as it is for us: it does not matter how early or late we ‘buy’ into the Gospel, it matters that we accept It and fulfill God’s will with our eyes fixed on the Person who is speaking the Word of God: Jesus Christ. A few days after his Solemn Entry in Jerusalem[5] He will be handed over to death.

Oratio

‘I was shocked, confused, bewildered As I entered Heaven's door, Not by the beauty of it all, Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven Who made me sputter and gasp-- The Garden Club Gossips, the thieves The liars and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade Who swiped my lunch money twice. Next to him was my old neighbour Who never said anything nice.

Bob, who I always thought Was rotting away in hell, Was sitting pretty on cloud nine, Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal? I would love to hear Your take. How'd all these sinners get up here? God must've made a mistake.

'And why is everyone so quiet, So sombre - give me a clue.' 'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock. No one thought they'd be seeing you’.

JUDGE NOT!!


Contemplatio

The chief priests and the elders had already decided to kill Jesus. Once again they were not able to accept another of Jesus’ stories addressed directly to them.

We may also feel questioned by the tough demands that the Christian Way (faithfulness to the will of God), places on us.

However, we do not want to lose sight of Jesus Christ, the Good News, our Saviour who stands right here in front of us and speaks his Word to us and opens for us the way of salvation.

We contemplate Christ as He welcomes into the Kingdom of God those persons the world (we) may consider as lost and unworthy of the divine call.

We contemplate the goodness of God (the Father) who, notwithstanding the harsh words of the first and the inconsistence of second son, offers the two of them a chance to work in his Vineyard.

We can also set our eyes on our vocation as Christians and remember that we are called to go to the world and bring Christ to peoples who may feel far or unworthy of the promises of God.

[1] Luke 7:29-30: “And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.” [2] Luke 18:11: “The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” Luke 7:37: “And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment.” Luke 19: 10: “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” [3] BARCLAY, William, “The Daily Study Bible. The Gospel of Matthew. Vol. 2”, The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, 1975, p. 260 [4] Mark 1: 15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;[k] repent, and believe in the good news.” [5] Matthew 21: 1-10


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