DEC. 15. ADVENT. WK. 3. (B) TUES. MATT. 21. 28-32
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’
The message Christ is giving us here is that we need to take our Faith, and the Christian vocation seriously as if we do not: “tax collectors and prostitutes will be making their way into the kingdom of God before you”.
It is easy to take our Faith for granted and to just presume “everything will be fine” but Christ is warning us this is not good enough because Christians have serious duties and obligations, not only to their Creator, but also to their neighbour!
When Christ was living among us, the focus of his life was not on his own welfare or comfort, but rather on being obedient to the Will of God the Father, and as Christians we are called to imitate him and to follow his ways.
It is so easy to forget this truth and to simply look after, and focus on, our own needs and welfare? The problem with this however is it means we are not “following Christ!”
This is why, Christ is telling us there is a good chance sinners and prostitutes will be entering heaven ahead of us as; - when they change their ways; - they can very easily fulfil the duties and obligations of Christians much better than those with a more casual approach to the duties of their Faith!
There are very few Christians who would not agree that it is easy to become very casual towards many of Christ’s teachings that make demands on us, such as “mortification”, “humility”, “meekness”, “generosity”, “charity”, “prayer”, “adoration”, “worship”, etc.
But the prostitute or the sinner, on hearing the invitation to “follow Christ, and learn from him” can easily respond in a much more generous and committed way than an “old time Christian” who knows all of Christ’s teachings, but has become very casual about “living” them.
The Saints and doctors of the church were well aware of these dangers, referring to them frequently by terms such as “mediocrity”, “tepidity”, “lukewarmness”, and “indifference,” terms that are in direct conflict with the life and teachings of Christ!
Probably, one of the most fundamental duties of Christians is to be found in the area of Prayer and Worship, and it is not hard at all to picture a newly converted sinner being more pleasing to God in this area than a Christian who had allowed mediocrity into his life?
So, the warning given here by Christ is not one to be ignored, particularly in today’s world where comfort, pleasure and self-love have been given such an important place?