by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil
Gospel: St. Matthew 21: 28-32
Next Sunday is the 1st Sunday after Transfiguration of Jesus.
(Transfiguration is an event reported in the New Testament in which Jesus transfigured upon Mount Tabor. Peter, James, and John were with him. There Jesus was transfigured before them. Jesus became radiant and his clothes became dazzling white. There appeared before them Elijah and Moses. A cloud appeared and enveloped them. A voice from the cloud said: "This is my Son".
It is one of the miracles mentioned in the Gospels. Orthodox Churches practice Transfiguration as a feast in honor of Jesus as well as a feast of the Holy Trinity, since all three Persons of the Trinity being present at that moment. God the Father spoke from heaven, God the Son was the one being transfigured, and God the Holy Spirit was present in the form of a cloud. Comparison is made to the Baptism of Jesus when the Holy Trinity appeared in a similar fashion.)
The Gospel reading for this Sunday is from Mathew 21:28-32: The Parable of the Two Sons. Jesus narrates a parable in which he creates a dilemma for us to ponder. This is a story of a father asking his sons to go out and work in the vineyard.
"28What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 29" 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. 31"Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." (Mathew 21:28-32)
Unfortunately we experience these kinds of situations too often these days. Many of us don't trust promises anymore. On TV and other media ads, advertisers bombard us with promises, guarantees with testimonies on their new and improved products. Politicians are experts in promising the best for us to get our support. We have heard statements like,
"We are winning the war in Vietnam," to
"We have clear evidence of WMD in Iraq."
"Mission accomplished in Iraq" to
"We are at the verge of winning in Afghanistan."
Some even have come forward at the end to say, "I am not a crook," to "I didn't inhale," to "I didn't have sex in the strict legal sense," and so on.
I am sure many of us are guilty of breaking promises, such as, "I will call you back," "The check is in the mail," "We will get together soon," "I will take care of it,", "I'll definitely be there tomorrow", and sometimes even much worse than that. We may have good intentions to keep our promises.
It is much easier to say "yes" and get the other person off the phone, than to say "no" or "I don't want to." Which one is harder, telling "yes" or telling "no"?. I think telling "yes" is easier than "no."
In today's parable, the father asks his children to go and work in the vineyard. The first son says "no", dishonoring his father but changes his mind later. The second son politely says "yes" but then doesn't do what he says. Perhaps neither of them deserve any rewards. Both of them are guilty of dishonest allegiance The first son dishonors his father, the second son disobeys.
This story could be about us. Many of us know how much we profess faith in God but do not live a faithful life. Some obey the will of God without fully believing in Him. Now the third option for us is this: In a world where broken promises pile up and cluster our lives, there are some promises that we know we can believe in and stake our life on. These are God's promises. God promises that he loves each and every one of us. He promises to weep with us, to mourn with us, to endure pain with us, to rejoice with us, and be always with us.
How should we respond to these assurances? The proper response on our part should be to make our promises to God in return. Let's promise to God that we will be honest, our faith in Him will dictate our actions from now onwards. Let's say, "yes" to God and then we "must" go out and do His work.
There is a whole vineyard out there that needs to be harvested. Let's go ahead and do the work.
May God bless.
Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 1st Sunday after the Feast of Transfiguration
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