Gospel Reflection for October 1, 2023 – 26th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Readings: Ezekiel 18.25-28; Philippians 2.1-11; Matthew 21.28-32

The priests and elders asked Jesus, “By what authority are you doing these things?” Jesus did not answer directly but said, “What do you think of this case? A man had two children. He came to the first and told him, “Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.” The son said, “No, I will not.”  But afterwards the son regretted it and went. Then the man came to the second child and said the same thing. The second answered, “Yes, sir.” But did not go.  Jesus asked, “Which of the two did the father’s will”  The priests and elders answered, “The first.”

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus sets off for Jerusalem after Peter answers the question, “Who do you say that I am?” When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, an enthusiastic welcoming crowd stirs up turmoil in the city about who he is. In Sunday’s gospel and the gospels of the next four Sundays, Jesus teaches in the courts of power. His sparring partners are the religious leaders of his time— the priests who serve the temple, scribes, Sadducees, elders, and Pharisees.

Jesus’ first activity is clearing out the temple of buyers and sellers. Then the poor move in. The leaders question his authority, so he gives them the case of the two sons. They properly identify the son who resists but eventually does what the father asks as the one who does his father’s will. But are they putting their choice into action?

Family duties and work lay many responsibilities on all of us. Job descriptions lay out the responsibilities that a business person counts on an employee to do. Many family and office conflicts arise out of people shirking duties others depend on them to do. Our Christian duty in the old and new law is love that gives life, forgives, includes. 

Jesus invites disciples in every time and place to work in God’s world for compassionate relations among all people and with the earth. Free the oppressed. Share your bread with the hungry. If a neighbor asks for your coat, give your shirt as well. Do not put off until tomorrow any good you can do today. Promises in words and good intentions are not enough. Doing the work of God demands action.

  • What gospel duty do you carry out most? Avoid most?
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