In the modern, rather individualistic world in which we live, there is a temptation to believe that what we have, we have earned, a result of my own hard work or that of others, such as a family. But today’ gospel is a reminder that all we have is from God. As such, we should not be hoarders of God’s good gifts. Even money itself should not be thought of as ours. Let us die to the notion of possessions, what is mine versus yours, and let us instead engage in a lifestyle of discipleship that shares what we have with the least among us.
In a gospel story filled with such violence, it might be easy to forget we are dealing with a merciful God! As indicated in several parables, Matthew’s church had the wisdom and experience to have learned that there were some in the church who did not belong. There are weeds within the wheat. Sadly, our modern experience reflects this too. Simply being in the church does not make one holy, God’s chosen, or a paragon of virtue. Only God has the authority to externally expel such a person. The sobering reminder that “many are invited but few are chosen” should cause us to pause, reflect and reexamine our lives.
Some of Jesus’ parables are a little dense when it comes to understanding the message hidden within them. But today’s parable is very clearly a judgment against the people of Israel and their religious leaders for not recognizing that Jesus comes from God. Sometimes our own agendas can bind us from recognizing the word of the Lord right in our midst. We set our hearts on a personal goal or way of doing things. Jesus reminds us that we always need to leave room for the ways of God.
Have you ever met a flatterer, or people pleaser? One who says what you want to hear but has no intention of following through? Or one who over-promises and under-delivers? It can be challenging to hear the words of Jesus in the parable today about such behaviors. Despite our best intentions, it is our actions that truly mean more than our words. There are many reason why we might over-promise, but we are reminded of another saying in the gospels, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No’ ” (Matt 5:37). This is simply good advice from Jesus the teacher.