Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

1st Sunday after the Festival of Transfiguration

Devotional Thoughts for the First Sunday After Transfiguration

by Rev. Dr. Varghese M Daniel, PhD, Connecticut

Gospel: St. Matthew 21: 28-32

We are continuing our liturgical journey from the celebration of Transfiguration of Christ to that of the Assumption of Mother Mary. In between these two feasts we celebrate two Sundays. Today is the first Sunday after the Transfiguration.

Jesus said this parable in the context where He saw the unbelief of the believer. Some Biblical scholars argue that the two kinds of sons represent the Gentiles and Jewish people. But some other scholars affirm that the two sons represent the Jewish community itself; representing the lay people who were associated with the Graeco-Roman world and the law keepers of Judaism. Nevertheless, it is notable that this is the only occasion where the phrase “tax collectors and prostitutes” is used in apostolic writings.

Jesus elucidates the paradox of ‘atheism of the theistic’ through this parable and reveals the complexity of human nature.

Three main points from this passage could be meaningful to meditate.

1. The Power of Positive Rethinking

The first son’s disrespect through his words was certainly an insult to his father. He might have responded so due to the thought of the probable discomfort which would arise if he follows the word of his father. However, when he rethinks about his instantaneous response he becomes willing to obey his father’s words. He repented about his response and found the value of genuine repentance.
Mar Jacob clearly depicts this value in a Bovooso: “The tears of a repentant are more valuable than diamonds”. (Tuesday Suthara Sheema Prayer). John the Baptist’s message was the same too. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance (St. Mat:.3.8). That’s why the Fathers of the Church say “confession is a forgotten medicine.” Each opportunity to rethink and analyze the prior responses and decisions in our life could oil the machinery of our relationships with God and human. The genuine repentance, and the willingness to change to even a diametrically opposite view or to make a complete U-turn, if necessary, will help the person to steer his journey towards the right shore.

2. Nothingness of Peripheral Promises

Today we live in a world where we hear more promises with the absence of any in-depth passion towards the promise. Definitely these kind of promises fabricate a kind of contentment to the ears of the audience. However, when they see the nothingness of these peripheral promises, it definitely hurts their hearts rigorously and they identify the person’s dim-witted personality. He / she will lose the basic trust of the immediate people around him / her. This indeed applies to our relationship with God: Jesus noticeably stated “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (St. Mt.7.21). In short, the real fruit of the peripheral promises is self-deception and nothingness.

3. The Greatness of Implemented Promises

Both sons are not true models for a true Christian life. The real Christian model is the right response with the willingness to implement the promise. This model is perfectly portrayed in the parable of the sower (St. Lk.8.8). Some seed fell on good soil; the soil responded pleasantly and nurtured without any delay. The quality and depth of the soil facilitated the growth of the seed to a fruitful tree. So a promise followed by its implementation inserts the quality of trustworthiness into one’s personality. This personality will not be double faced. This quality is an essential ingredient to a positive relationship with God and human. God himself shows this model in his relationship with the people of God. “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.” (I Kings: 8.56)

Without trust, words become the hollow sound of a wooden gong. With trust, words become life itself. -- John Harold

May God bless us to rethink if our words are insulting to anyone and to learn the nothingness of peripheral promises, and the greatness of implemented promises.

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 1st Sunday after the Feast of Transfiguration

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