Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They 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.”
Despite the fire at the air traffic control center in Aurora, we made it out of O’Hare on time yesterday and arrived here in Rome almost right on time. The weather is beautiful – sunny, high 70’s and blue skies. We celebrated Mass today with another group of pilgrims here for the ordination.
Then we took everyone to visit St. Peter’s Basilica. I had a close moment praying with Michelangelo’s Pieta. I was overwhelmed thinking about what Mary was experiencing at the moment they laid Jesus’ lifeless body in her arms. Then we visited the tomb of St. John Paul II and I asked for his intercession to be a holy priest. We finished off the day with a trip for gelato at my favorite “Old Bridge”. It was a wonderful day!
The Gospel for this Sunday reminds me of the Gospel last week in which Jesus paid the one who worked the whole day the same amount as the one who had only worked one hour. Jesus’ ways are not our ways. Can He not be generous with His gifts and grace?
This Sunday we are surprised in another way. Jesus tells the chief priests and elders that prostitutes and tax collectors were entering heaven before them because they changed their lives after encountering Christ. The religious leaders were self-righteous and did not change their ways. In other words, a “religious” man can live a very public life seemingly following Jesus, but if their hearts are not changed, they can be denied heaven. And public sinners who change their lives after encountering Christ can live forever in heaven.
It doesn’t seem fair! Like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son, we think we deserve heaven by our exterior actions. However, Jesus wants our hearts.
Have you encountered the living Christ?
Has your heart been changed by Him?
Have a blessed day!