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The other day I was going over to see Mum which I am lucky enough to be able to do often. I had been busy all day – Funeral service and school work – but I had been glad to get an hour to go and see Mum.  I thought I had been quite good but, as I walked in Mum said “I thought you’d have been here earlier!”  A good deed?  A good criticism!  Of course, I knew behind Mum’s statement was the “I’m glad you’re here” and “I hope you had a good holiday.”  Families are good at providing criticisms even when good things are being done: how many times have I heard people saying that their ill parents and relatives in Hospital often say “I’ve had no visitors” despite the fact that they are there every day!  Harsh criticism often without foundation.




Today’s parable of the Two Sons comes within an episode where Jesus is criticising the Chief Priests and Elders of the people.  We know from other Gospel episodes that Jesus’ criticism of Jewish leaders was quite common.  The background to today’s episode was that Jesus and John the Baptist had become very popular among the people and were gathering quite large crowds among the people.  For the Chief Priests and the Elders therefore Jesus and John the Baptist were both a religious threat (because they were taking peoole away from the Jewish Temple) and a political threat (because it was unclear whether Jesus’ large crowds would encourage political unrest).  In reply Jesus invites the leaders to think about their own words and actions rather than those of other people; if they were able to get their own words and actions correct then there might be the chance that they could influence more people in society and in religion.  The question behind Jesus’ parable of the Two Sons was “Who will get into God’s Kingdom?”  Is it the person who, like the second son says “Yes, yes” but does nothing about it?  Or is it the person who, like the first son, says “No” but goes away, reflects on his actions and changes.  The Chief Priests and Elders were being challenged by Jesus to think less of other people and to reflect on their own words and actions.  Were they “Yes, yes” people who did little for God and their religion?  Or were they people who reflected on their words and actions and changed where necessary?




Clearly today’s Gospel is for every one of us.  Jesus is challenging not just the leaders; through them, Jesus is criticising you and me.  Are you “Yes, yes” people who promise loads for family, friends, God and religion?  Or are you people who reflect on your words and actions and change where necessary?




There is a real challenge for you and for me to go away from Mass today and reflect on where you are going in life.  Sometime this seems quite harsh from Jesus but like my Mum who can bring me up short with the “I thought you’d have been here earlier,” it gives us all a chance to think on our words and actions in the light of Gospel values.


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