Here is a quiz for you. You are sleeping. You are dreaming. A big lion is chasing you. You try to run away and you see a tiger coming in front of you. You turn sideways, but on every side, you turn to, you find a ferocious animal coming after you. How can you escape? The answer is: Wake up. Advent is a wake-up call.
We are in the advent season, starts the new liturgical year, year B. Pope Benedict XVI once wrote: "The purpose of the Church's year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart's memory so that it can discern the star of hope. It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us, memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."
On the First Sunday of Advent reading tells us “watch.” The Romans divided the night into watches of three hours each, and there were four watches to the night. Jesus says in the Gospel, “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.” Just in a general sense, it is hard to watch and wait during the night time. The gatekeeper needs to be vigilant and awake when the master is coming. We see this message all the Gospels. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” Matthew 24:42.
In the First reading prophet Isaiah speaks for his people. They were in Babylonian exile and just coming back to Promised Land. We can see all kinds of emotional feelings in this reading. On one side we see hope, at the same time we can see guilt, outrage, and asking for help. Isaiah agrees that people were not faithful. Isaiah was pleading that God will remain with them and his presence will change the people. In the second reading, St. Paul gives thanks to the Christian community in Corinth. He recognizes their faith and living out the spiritual gift. They were in watch for their faith and entering into the fellowship with Jesus.
What should we need to watch in this Advent? The first is the immediate watch and wait for the celebration of Christmas. The second is the watch and wait for the second coming of Christ. The first half of the advent readings will help us to reflect on the second coming of Christ and the second half of the advent reading will invite us to reflect on the birth of Child Jesus.
How we want to watch and wait during this time? The first watch - find time for the Lord. During the pandemic it may be hard, still can find ways to celebrate our faith. Read scripture, find time to pray every day, or attend Mass in person or virtually, and so on.
The second watch – reach out to others. St Teresa of Avila tells us, “Christ has no body now on earth, but yours; no feet, but yours. It is your eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out to the world; your feet with which he must walk about doing good; your hands with which he blesses humanity; your voice with which his forgiveness is spoken; your heart with which he now loves.” Jesus invites us to be near and dear to others for him.
Let us be with Mary who spent time in prayer and being present to Elizabeth who was in need of help. Happy Advent!
Frederich Nietzche, the German philosopher said, “God is dead.” In 1966 Time Magazine published a cover story that asked, “Is God Dead?” Is it God dead or alive for you and me?
Only a minority will say God is dead, but lots of us live like God is dead. Our God is alive, he is with us. We celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King- King of the Universe, which marks the end of the Liturgical year A, and next Sunday, we begin First Sunday of Advent begins the liturgical year B.
The Gospel reading for this Solemnity is the conclusion of the discourse which portrays the final judgment. Even though it says it is a parable, but it really saying about the shepherd who separates righteous sheep and wicked goats. The criteria for the separation or judgment will be the deeds of mercy which has done for the least of Jesus’ brothers. Jesus told his disciples when they were commissioned and sent out, “Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward” (10:42). Jesus, our King, identifies himself with the least of our sisters and brothers. He says, “I was hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, imprisoned.” The question for us, did we recognize him.
In the first reading from the Book of Ezekiel, portrays a shepherd who gathers his sheep. Israelites were in Babylonian exile. God told them through the prophet that God, the good shepherd, will pasture them and give them rest and bring them back. At the end of the first reading we read like this, “As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats” (11:17). Matthew in Gospel (25:32-33) says the same thing going to happen at the judgment.
In the second reading Paul tells us that death came through Adam, but we all receive life through the risen Christ. He is the source of our strength; he is our good shepherd who offered as a ransom for our failures. He is our King who came from the house of King David.
Mother Teresa told this story in an address to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. “One evening several of our Sisters went out, and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. So I told the other Sisters, ‘You take care of the other three: I will take care of this one who looks the worst.’ So I did for the woman everything that my love could do. I cleaned her and put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hands and said two words in her language, Bengali: ‘Thank you.’ Then she died. I could not help but examine my conscience. I asked myself, ‘What would I say if I were in her place?’ My answer was simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, ‘I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain.’ But the woman gave me much more; she gave me grateful love, dying with a grateful smile on her face. It means that even those with nothing can give us the gift of thanks.” Happy Thanksgiving!!
Thirty Third Sunday of Ordinary time, Pope Francis invites us to celebrate the World Day of Poor. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was summoned to the court on the charges of converting children to the Catholic faith. When she stood in the dock, the judge asked her if the charges were true. She asked for a baby to be given to her. She held the baby in her arms and said, “This child I picked up from the dust bin; I don’t know to what religion this child belongs or what language it speaks… I give this child my love, my time, my care, my food… but the best thing that I have in my life is the faith in Jesus Christ. Can’t I give this child the best I have in my life?” The case was dismissed in favor of Mother Theresa.
Pope Francis says, ““The hope of the poor will not perish forever” (Ps 9:19). These words of the Psalm remain timely. They express a profound truth that faith impresses above all on the hearts of the poor, restoring lost hope in the face of injustice, sufferings, and the uncertainties of life.”
Eucharist is the perfect example of Jesus’ self-giving. These days so many people have to receive Spiritual Communion due to COVID 19. This weekend, when we receive him in Holy Communion, spiritually or sacramentally, let us make a promise that we will go out and courageously invest our God-given gifts to serve one another.
We are at the end of the liturgical year and on this penultimate Sunday, the reading invites us to reflect on being prepared. We have the first reading from the book of Proverbs. It is an anthology of collection of sayings and instruction. This weekend reading is a poetic explanation of a worthy wife who brings many blessings by properly using God-given gifts. In the second reading, Paul advises us to keep awake and encouraging and building each other up as we wait for the “Day of the Lord.”
Today’s Gospel put in front of us a question: Are we using our talents and gifts primarily to serve God? The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive and constructive with our talents. The talent was a unit of coinage of high but varying value depending on its metal (gold, silver, copper) and its place of origin. A denarius was the normal daily wage. A talent is 6,000 denarii or 20 years of daily wages for a six-day workweek.
In the parable, one got five talents second two, and the third one each. Even one talent was a huge amount. But the person who got the one buried in the ground. During Jesus’ time, it was not unusual to guard valuables by burying them in the ground (Matthew 13:44).
In this parable, Jesus says, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” We read in Matthew 13:12, “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” The person who got the one talent, as punishment, he loses the gift he had received, that is now given to the first servant, whose possessions are already great.
Through this parable, Jesus reminds us that we should be always live in the presence of God, and doing the work of God to glorify him and for the salvation of all.
Congratulations: Let us congratulate our Junior Confirmation Candidates as they make their Commitment ceremony. They are asking for our prayers and support. Let us remember them in our prayer coming days and months as they make their immediate preparations.
A tour group was riding in an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. At about the 102nd floor, a woman asked the tour guide, “If the cables on this elevator break, do we go up or down?” The tour guide answered, “Well, that depends on how you are living.”
The month of November is dedicated to praying for our loved ones. We celebrated All Saints Day and All Souls day. We celebrate Mass of Remembrance this weekend. It is an opportunity to remember all those who have passed from last November to this November, remember them with names and join their families with prayer.
We are towards the end of the liturgical year and the reading reminds us about being prepared. This weekend all three reading one way or other way talks about wisdom. In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, wisdom is embodied as a woman. Wisdom is a gift from God. It comes to those who are worthy and searching to receive. In the second reading, Paul shares the Christian Wisdom with early Christians in Thessalonians that through death and resurrection Jesus saves us. His second coming will be soon.
In the Gospel, we see wise and foolish women. At a wedding, we are familiar with the groom waiting for the bride. It is not that long either. During Jesus’ time, they had different customs. Once they are engaged, they are considered as couples, but they both live with their parents. The wedding could take place anytime within two weeks. The groom will come to get the bride for the wedding. So the bride had to be in a state of constant alert during those two weeks. Those days there was not much means to inform. The groom does not inform in advance, he could come any time during this period. When the groom went to the bride’s house to pick her up for the wedding he would have to negotiate with her relatives the gifts he would give for the privilege of being able to marry her. Sometimes it could drag on for a time. There is a lot happening during this time. All of sudden, there was an announcement for bridesmaids to come out to meet the bridegroom. The bridegroom will send a man before him along the street to should, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming.” We know five of the ten virgins, they didn’t have enough oil to go out and meet.
Matthew 25:10 says, “While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.” We read in the book of Revelation 19:9, “Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These words are true; they come from God.” The wise one had extra oil, and they were prepared, so they could enter for the wedding feast.
The question for us, how can we be ready? Matthew 7: 24, we read, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” Our good deeds are the oil for the lamp, being prepared to receive the bridegroom, Jesus.
Veterans Day: Veterans served our country. We honor them for their many sacrifices. Let us thank them for their dedication and commitment. Happy Veterans Day!
Congratulations to our First Reconciliation students and parents: They are preparing for First Reconciliation and making their Commitment ceremony this weekend, lets congratulate them and include them in our daily prayer.
Dear Lord today is all Saint’s day! It is a wonderful day. So far today I've done all right. I haven't gossiped, haven't lost my temper, and haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, Lord, I'm going to get out of bed, and from then on I'm probably going to need a lot more help. Amen
November 1st is all Saints day and November 2nd is All Souls day. Sometimes we think that the church means we who are on earth. Church has three realms. The church on earth is called the militant church because we are in a battle between good and evil; the souls in purgatory are called suffering church because they are in a purifying state to fully experience God’s glory and the saints who have already entered the heavenly glory are the victorious or triumphant church.
All Saints day is a feast honoring all Christian saints – known and unknown. All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints Day is a day on which we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and heavenly glory as a reward for their faith. In addition, the feast is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ.
On All Souls Day, we remember all those who have gone before us. Benedict XVI says Soul corresponds to our capacity for a relationship with God. Normally we all want to see, touch, smell, and taste everything. In other words, we like firsthand experience. But, are we satisfied with that? Don’t we have craving for something in our hearts? There is an inner capacity to relate to God. We feel in our hearts, something beyond this world. Our souls long for something beyond this world.
This weekends reading tells us who is a saint and what we need to do to become a saint. The first reading from the Book of Revelation speaks John’s vision. He saw an angel coming from the East and the seal of the living God (7:2). East is considered as the source of light and place of paradise; and the seal has whatever impression it belongs to that person and under his/her protection. “I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites” (7:4). It is a symbolic number who have marked with a seal from the twelve tribes of Israel, and other places symbolize the new Israel, the church. John says, “I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands” (7:9). White robes, palm branches: symbols of joy and victory. We see in Revelation 3:5 “The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels.” The book of life: the roll in which the names of the redeemed are kept.
God gave Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai to Moses. In the Gospel, we see the new Moses, Jesus, who gives Sermon on the Mount on a mountain to his disciples and crowd. Here Jesus talks about the new spirit of the kingdom of God; the spirit in which the children of the kingdom should live. The form Blessed are (is) occurs frequently in the Old Testament in the Wisdom literature and in the psalms. Poor means materially poor, but Jesus says poor in spirit means dependence on God. Psalm 37:11 we read, “The poor will inherit the earth, and will delight in great prosperity.” In the Psalm it means the land of Palestine; when Jesus teaches it means the kingdom of heaven. We may notice in the Gospel of Matthew it says “kingdom of heaven” Luke, in his Gospel will say “kingdom of God.” Matthew wrote the Gospel to the Jewish community and they were afraid to call God directly, so they used some other words to talk about God. So Matthew does not use the word “God” instead uses the word “heaven.” In the beatitude, Jesus tells us how to lead a holy life.
November 1 -7 is the National Vocation Awareness Week. We all are called to holiness, but in different ways: as a priest, married couple and family, singles, religious life, and so on. In a special way, this week let us pray for Vocation to the priesthood and religious life. Tell your children or grandchildren about the vocation to the priesthood and religious life.
The last weekend of Respect Life Month, we are praying for victims of Domestic violence and human trafficking. We are invited to love one another, be the sight for those who have no sight. The violence against another person is a failure to treat that person as someone worthy of love. The violence within the sacramental marriage, the abused spouse may question, "How do these violent acts relate to my promise to take my spouse for better or for worse?" The person being assaulted needs to know that acting to end the abuse does not violate the marriage promises. An article from United States Bishop says, “We focus here on violence against women since 85 percent of the victims of reported cases of non-lethal domestic violence are women. Women's greatest risk of violence comes from intimate partners—a current or former husband or boyfriend.”
Today human trafficking is a new form of slavery. United Bishop’s Conference says, “Human trafficking violates the sanctity, dignity, and fundamental rights of the human person.” They state that every nation is affected by this disease—the United States is no exception. We all are called to love God and love one another. It is the essence of our discipleship. In the month of October, we were reflecting and praying, especially through the devotion to the Rosary, on the dignity of the human life from the womb to the tomb.
This weekends reading invites us to reflect on LOVE: love for God and love for neighbor. We continue to hear from the Gospel of Matthew (22:34-40). A scholar of the law came to Jesus with a question: "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" The reason behind the question is clear, the grudge: Jesus silenced the Sadducees, so what we can do the next.
As usual, Jesus uses the opportunity to teach them. The first part of Jesus' answer is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:5 “Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.” This was part of the Shema, the basic and essential creed of Judaism, which every Jewish child would memorize. It tells us that our total commitment is to God.
The second part of Jesus' answer is from Leviticus 19:18 “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Jews had laws for everything. Our love for God needs to be delivered in love for other human beings.
In a way, Jesus emphasizes the scriptures which they all know and reminds us what is most important in the law. First and foremost love for God and love for the human being who was created in the image and likeness of God.
The first reading is taken from the Covenant at Sinai (Exodus 19-24). Israelites were liberated from slavery and they are Mount Sinai. The reading for this weekend talks about how to treat the other person. In another word, it is talking about God’s law of LOVE: love God and neighbor. In the second reading, Paul presents the people of Thessalonians who lived their faithfully. They expressed their love for God in prayer and their love for the neighbor in compassion and mercy. Paul is praising their enthusiasm and love for the faith. This weekend readings can be summarized in one word: LOVE.
Congratulations! All of you might have read in the Catholic Herald that Betty Hirtreiter received the Pax Christi Award. Please join me to congratulate her. We will recognize and celebrate the joy in later days. Congratulations Betty!
I read the story of a phone call Father O’Malley received. It goes like this: Hello, is this Father O’Malley? Father O’Malley says, “Yes, It Is.” From the other side, “This is the IRS. Can you help us?” Father O’Malley, “Yes-I can” “Do you know a Ted Houlihan?” Father O’Malley, “Yes, I do” Is he a member of your congregation? Father O’Malley, “Yes, He is” Did he donate $10,000 to the church? Father O’Malley, “Yes, He will”
We are celebrating Mission Sunday. Mission Sunday invites us to reflect beyond our local church and see the mission of the universal church. Some give to the missions by going. Some go by giving. Mission Sunday is the day to reach out beyond the needs of the local Parish and diocese to assist missionaries as they go and tell in the young churches. The theme for the Extraordinary Missionary Month is: “Here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Pope Francis in his message for World Mission Sunday invites us to respond to our baptismal call to mission by saying, “Here I Am, Send Me.” Mission Sunday brings us together to celebrate our faith and support by our prayer and financially Pope Francis's mission.
If we listen to our media, there is a lot of questions about what is secular and what is sacred. Most of the time, we hear that we have to embrace one and hate other realities. We like to separate this world and the world to come. In reality, we cannot separate, it is a continuation. Both of the worlds give us privileges and responsibility. In the first reading from Second Isaiah, we see, God anointed Cyrus to carry out God's plan for the people of Israel. Israelites were in Babylonian exile. God called Cyrus for the deliverance and restoration of Israel. God said to Cyrus, I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God beside me. For Cyrus, anointing comes with responsibility.
The Gospel of Matthew chapters 21 and 22 bring a series of the controversial moment between Jesus and leaders of Israelites. In the Gospel passage for this weekend, we see Pharisees sending their disciples with the Herodians. Why did they go with Herodians? Herodians are the supporters of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, and they would favor payment of the tax; the Pharisees did not. Also, the people of Israel were against the payment of the tax to Romans. If they could find fault in Jesus, Herodians were the most suitable people to report to Roman authorities. So their question was, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” If Jesus answers yes, people become against him and it will destroy Jesus’ influence among the people. If Jesus answers no, then, Herodians will report to the authorities. Jesus is not giving a yes or no answer; instead, he asked them to bring a coin and asked them "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" In a way, Jesus asked them to answer their own question. Jesus told them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
The coin belongs to Caesar. Then a question emerges, what belongs to God? Each one of us belongs to God. God created us in his own image and likeness. What should we do? We should engage in the “work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope” as we hear in the second reading. St. Paul says, Holy Spirit is at work among the Thessalonians. They grew in three theological virtues. So St. Paul gives thanks to God for them.
Respect life month invites us to meditate on the dignity of life. The Bible teaches that life is a gift of God and hence we have to respect it from womb to tomb. This weekend we celebrate Inclusion Awareness Day as a part of respect life month. Respect life month we celebrate life with our abilities and disAbilities, strengths, and weaknesses. We are one family. Inclusion awareness Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on how we include everyone in the community by looking at our abilities, rather than looking at disabilities. How we appreciate the gift of each and every one. In other words, how we celebrate our differences. This weekends reading invites us to wear the wedding garment which is our good deeds. Let us “do something beautiful for God.”
Christian spirituality is joy-filled and needs to be celebrated. All three readings for this weekend we read about food. The first reading and Gospel clearly talks about the banquet.
The first reading praises God for carrying his plan to destroy the enemy and save his people Zion and they announce the victory banquet to be celebrated in the Lord’s city. It is a prophetic vision of the universality of salvation. Isaiah says, “On this mountain, the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” This mountain is Jerusalem’s mountain, Zion. A feast for people, destroy the death, wiping away tears from every face. The Book of Revelation chapter 7 talks about “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robe… (7:9) for the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (7:17).” On that day we will chant together, “let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us (Isaiah 25:9).”
The first reading from the book of Isaiah is parallel to Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast. The Gospel begins with "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” In this parable, the King is the Lord God, the son is Jesus, and the servants are the prophets, the invited guest is the people of Israel, they are the chosen one. They ignored the invitation and engaged their daily business. Some of them mistreated or killed the servants (prophets) who came to announce the invitation. Then the King destroyed the murderers and burned their city. It is about the distraction of the Jerusalem temple.
Then King's invitation send out everyone and gathered for the wedding feast. It is talking about the Church. God gathered everyone from around the globe. We all are invited to come to the heavenly banquets. The requirement for the wedding feast is to wear the wedding garment. What is the wedding garment? Revelation 19:8 says, “She was allowed to wear a bright, clean linen garment. The linen represents the righteous deeds of the holy ones.
Jesus told this parable to the chief priest, elders, and Israelites; today he tells us the same parable. This parable tells us that God invites everyone. The first step is to accept the invitation. The second step is to wear the wedding garment which is our good deeds. Colossians 3:12 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Let us be grateful to Christ for the invitation and prepare well to participate in the heavenly banquet.
Christian spirituality is a spirituality of joy and celebration. Let us celebrate our faith with joy.
Thank you! I would like to express gratitude to the Knights of Columbus for putting up the cemetery of innocence for Respect Life month.
First of all, let us wish our St. Francis parishioners, a happy and joyful Feast of St. Francis. Feast of St. Francis of Assis was on October 4th. St. Francis of Assis loved the whole universe. The custom of blessing of animals originated from St. Francis’s love all creatures. Animals used to come and listen to St. Francis preach. St. Francis loved all God’s creation, in other words, loved all life.
The Church dedicates the month of October for respect life and the rosary. This year, the theme for the respect life is "Live the Gospel of Life." Every moment of our life from womb to tomb is a gift from God and He is our Hope. As I mentioned above October is the month of the Rosary, a devotion to our Mother Mary, which very well connects with respect life month. When we meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary, we walk through the life of Jesus: from the very moment of his conception in the womb of Mary, through his public life; passion, death, and resurrection to his ascension and coming of the Holy Spirit. He restored the dignity of our life. Through his salvific action, we received the dignity of life.
The first week we pray in a special way, we pray for unborn babies, mothers, and babies aborted and the healing of their parents. In the second week, we will be praying for people with different abilities (disabilities). We call it Inclusion awareness Sunday. If you know someone who has not received a Sacrament in their appropriate age, please call Kathy Rominske, Sandy Kennedy, and we can prepare them for Sacraments. If you know someone who would like to read, or greet please call the parish office. We will train and prepare them for the ministry.
On the third Sunday, we celebrate World Mission Sunday. Pope Francis, in his message, asks us to respond to our baptismal call to mission by saying, “Here I Am, Send me.” Thirds Sunday, October 18th is also the feast of St. Luck, who was a physician and patron saint of the medical profession. This weekend Mass we pray for all those who are sick, opportunity to receive the Sacrament of the Sick, and offer a special prayer for the caregivers and healthcare professional. Fourth Sunday, we meditate and pray for domestic violence and human trafficking. Again, it is an opportunity to reflect on the dignity of life in our day-to-day life.
Respect Life month invites us to reflect on the dignity of the lives from womb to tomb, and evaluate, how we respect one another’s lives. Let us pay special attention to pray the Rosary this month and pray for peace, human life, and the family. “The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” -Saint Padre Pio.
This weekends reading is about God’s chosen people. We see in the book of Isaiah, (meaning the Lord is salvation) and the Gospel of Matthew the vineyard. The Israelites were the vineyard of the Lord. Isaiah 5:7 says, “The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel.” The parable of tenants in the Gospel is about the dealing of God with his people. In the parable, the landowner is the Lord, the vineyard is the people, hedge around them, wine press, and tower are his protection and care. The tenants are the chief priest and elders, and God’s servants who came to obtain his products are the prophets, and finally his Son Jesus. This parable is to tell us much about God, his patience, his judgment, and above all it tells about Jesus' sacrifice. It is also about the privilege of his people, freedom, the fallen nature of human beings, and answerability.
The parable concludes with the picture of the stone. Psalm 118:22: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Jews were hated by all. There were slaves of many nations. But they were the chosen people of God. Isaiah 28:16: “Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation.” There are many more places in the Old Testament. These pictures of stone are summed up in Jesus. Jesus is the foundation of which everything is built, and the cornerstone holds everything together.
This weekends reading places a question in front of us: are we for God or against God? The first reading from Ezekiel chapter eighteen rejects the idea that punishment is transferred from one generation to the next and emphasized personal responsibility. Lord says, since a person has turned away from sins, he shall live. Nobody is going to be punished for someone else’s sin. God told them that he is love and merciful. He always gives chance for each person. God is always ready to forgive; we should be able to accept forgiveness.
In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 21, the scene took place in Jerusalem. It is already predicted Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. We have for this weekends reading 21:28-32. Prior to that, we see Jesus cleansing the Jerusalem Temple (21:12) cursing the fig tree (21:18) and Jesus’ authority is questioned (21:23). The chief priests and elders show great concern and taking precautionary steps about Jesus’ presence in the Jerusalem Temple. In this context, Jesus addresses the people who challenged his authority with the parable of the two sons.
In this parable, Jesus presents a vineyard owner to the chief priests and elders of the people. The vineyard owner came to the first son and asked to go out and work in the vineyard today. He said in reply, 'I will not, but later changed his mind and obeyed. At the same the other son said “Yes” his father’s same order, but did not go. Jesus’ question for the chief priest and elders were “Which of the two did his father's will?" Their correct answer, "The first" was Jesus’ case against them. The chief priest and elders were considered as the first and separated group among the Jews. This parable emphasizes the need for continuous response “yes” to the saving act of God. The Chief priest and elders said “Yes” once, then they lost true spirit or mode of it. They were not ready to listen when John the Baptist came, and now to Jesus’ either. But the common people, so many times said “No” to God through their life, but they listen to John the Baptist and received the baptism of repentance, they listen to Jesus and follow him.
When the chief priests and elders answered, “The first” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.” We see in Luke 7:29-30 “All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.” History repeats and continues, Jesus put this question in front of us. What will be our answer? Do we have an image of the first son or the second?
The second reading tells us in a beautiful way how to live our life. Paul begins by telling us to be kind, and loving, and merciful to each other. We are to put the interests of others above ourselves. Then he tells us that we should have the same attitude in life as Jesus had. Jesus emptied Himself, left all his glory, and was born in a manger. And He obeyed His Father for our sake, offered on the cross-a total giving. Christ brought us the victory through the Cross. When we received our Baptism, our parents and godparents said, “Yes” for us. At our Confirmation, we personally said “Yes” to God. This weekend readings remind us to renew our “Yes.” If we are away from that let us come back to HIM.
The Month of October is the month of the Rosary and Respect Life. We will have Rosary before every Mass. Also next weekend Mass, we will rededicate the memorial stone for the unborn.