Bread In The Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

All Saints Catholic Church

The assigned readings from scripture for this coming weekend are: Ezekiel 18: 25-28; Philippians 2: 1-11; Matthew 21: 28-32.

In the Gospel we hear Jesus speaking to the leaders of the religion, those who felt they had it made. Of course, it was all show and tell. They wanted especially to show the “wicked”, the prostitutes and tax collectors that they were damned. And these “damned” people were the ones Jesus hung out with, ate with and always treated with love and kindness. And of course, that is why Jesus was painted with the same brush as the “damned.”

Jesus stood up for the outcasts and had no trouble telling the “saved” that they got it quite wrong as they assumed that they were speaking for God as they uttered anathemas and turned their backs on the folks they determined were damned.

Jesus was constantly speaking up for the outcasts and challenging the religious leaders to lighten up and read the scripture as he did; where God, his daddy, was in love with all of creation, including those precious sons and daughters of His that may have turned away and lived selfishly without regard for their sisters and brothers.

In the Gospel under consideration, Jesus tells the scribes and Pharisees a story and then asks a question. They know pretty quickly that he was speaking about them. He asked them which son did his father’s will, the one that said he would go and work in the vineyard but didn’t or the one who said he would not go, but eventually went. They knew they were like the one who said he would go, but never did. And the prostitutes and tax collectors may have said no, as one can see from their life-style, but heard the Good News and went! They will get into the Kingdom way before those who claimed righteousness and pointed their finger at the “damned.”

Jesus reminds them that when John the Baptist came they ignored him, but tax collectors and prostitutes listened and turned around. The religious leaders did not.

Let’s say, “yes” to working in God’s vineyard. It is a lot of fun. And in the process we learn not to judge but to love and from that love we will become more faithful as we help others to hear and live the “Good News.”

Paul got the message as he turned around from being an accomplice to murder to being the Apostle to the Gentiles. He says in Philippians that we should humbly regard others (no distinction) as more important than ourselves. We are to look out for our own interests, but also the interests of others. We must have the same mind and heart, compassion and mercy as Christ.