My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It's not unfamiliar to us to hear Jesus' using parable to reveal the truth to the people back in the time and to us now. Today's parable has a name called "The parable of two sons" from the Gospel of Matthew.
This parable seems very self-explanatory that the first son is the one who is doing his father's will even though he refuses to accept it at first. The second son is not doing his father's will although he says "yes" at first, but never carry it out his "yes".
In your opinion, which son is an ideal one? Any volunteer? .....
Neither son is an ideal one since in their patriarchal culture saying "no" to your father is already a disrespectful, dishonorable, and even disgraceful to him. So, the first son saying "no" to his father is unacceptable. The second son saying "yes" to his father at once, but his "yes" is only an empty promise without any intention of doing it. So, his empty promise is also a dishonorable gesture toward his father.
St. Matthew told us that Jesus asked the chief priests and the elders which of the two sons did the father's will? They replied to him with a correct answer and that is the first son because he did it at the end.
The chief priests and the elders actually dig their own grave since Jesus identify them as the second son while the tax collectors and the prostitutes are the first son. It's getting worse that the tax collectors and the prostitutes will enter the kingdom of heaven before them.
What about us? Jesus wants to teach us 2 things here:
First, the Lord wants us to see the intimate connection between belief and action, between faith and work. The tax collectors and the prostitutes believe in John the Baptist and because of their belief they change their way of life. They no longer live their life the way they desire, but the way God desires. Jesus identifies them as those who do the father's will. If we truly believe in him, have faith in him, in his teaching, in his church as his earthly body, we ought to do our Father's will. Our actions must reflect well our belief. We profess our faith every Sunday when we gather here together for worshipping. The Nicene Creed says it all that we have one Father in heaven awaiting for us to join into his godly family, that his only Son Jesus Christ died for our sin, that we are on our earthly journey to heaven where it is our true home. These have to be our nonnegotiable principles guiding for our life.
Secondly, the Lord desires our sincere repentance.If We recognize ourselves as sinners like the tax collectors and the prostitutes, we need to repent. We are like the first son who says "no" at first, then does it later because he repents. I am sure we are all experience some level of repentance.
It is not easy to repent because repentance requires us to accept that we are wrong.
It is not easy to repent because repentance requires us to leave our old way of life behind, our many years old of habits behind, but with God everything is possible.
It is not easy to repent because it requires us to accept God's way of life in all aspects of our life.
Knowing our struggle for repentance, Christ makes himself always available in the sacrament of reconciliation. If if we don't make ourselves available to him in the sacrament of reconciliation, we remain sinners. If we do, then our sins will be forgiven and eventually we will be able to quit our old habits and put them behind us, not because of our own strength, but because of his love dwelling in our heart. Love is the primary source and motivation that help us to repent.
To help us understand the significant meaning of the word "repent" and the interconnectedness between "repentance" and "belief", let us recall that Christ himself begins his mission by these very words: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand, Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mk 1:15) Repentance and belief are like the two sides of the same coin. We can't have one without the other.
In conclusion, "Repentance and belief" are the left and the right side of our lung that help us to live a godly life of pleasing to our heavenly Father.
Option(((((((((((((Finally, God our Father sends his only Son, Jesus Christ to show us what an ideal son will be like - who says "yes" to the Father all the way to his last breath when he cried out in loud voice: "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit." (Lk 23:46)))))))))))))))
Pt Hoàng Thương