Reflection: Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church



[1st Reading – Ez.18:25-28; Ps.24; 2nd Reading – Phil.2:1-11; Gospel – Mt.21:28-32]


Jesus is very clear in his teaching in today’s gospel.  Although he did not say it explicitly, he is saying that it is not really what one ‘says’ that creates a relationship with God… but rather what one ‘does’.  The parable is short and straightforward and the moral followed very soon after.  We are told that Jesus asked the opinion of the “chief priests and elders” about who (according to the story) did the father’s will.  He asks these well-versed and highly-learned scholars (in scriptures) a very simple question.  Yet, although the chief priests and the elders managed to arrive at the only logical conclusion, they failed to understand Jesus’ teaching behind the story.  Jesus is telling them that although they have the knowledge of the Sacred Scripture and that they “say” they are doing the will of God, in reality, they are far from it.  Their ‘saying’ does not match their ‘doing’.  Jesus gets straight to the point and makes it very clear to the chief priests and the elders that they are like the son who said that he was going to do his father’s will, but soon changed his mind.  Because of this, the “tax collectors and the prostitutes” will make their way before them into the kingdom of God.  It is interesting that Jesus does not close the door to the chief priests and the elders… He merely says that these will be preceded in the kingdom of God, by tax collectors and prostitutes!

The chief priests and the elders are considered to be at the top level of scripture knowledge while the tax collectors and the prostitutes are recognised to be at the top level with regards to sin and abomination in the eyes of God.  Yet, they are more eligible than the chief priests and the elders to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  It is not because of their sin but rather it is because of their acceptance of God in their life because although they are “sinners”, once they understand/see a ‘pattern of true righteousness’, they believe.  Since they have faith (and faith helps them to change their life and turn away from sin) in turn they are considered as ‘better’ in the eyes of the Lord.  The chief priests and the elders (unlike the tax collectors and the prostitutes) were not ready to believe when they saw a pattern of righteousness.  What is worse, when they saw John, they “refused to think better of it and believe in him”.  In other words, they were not ready and were not open to the presence of God in their life, even though they often said (and perhaps even believed) they were.

We too find ourselves somewhere between the chief priests/the elders on one side, and the tax collectors/prostitutes on the other.  We should ask ourselves what is our attitude in “doing” the will of the Father in heaven.  Is it like the chef priests and the elders where we know what it says, we hear it every time we visit our church but then does nothing about it? Or is it like the tax collectors and prostitutes of today’s gospel, where we are ready to believe and change our life when we see “a sign of true righteousness”?

Lord, you are ever present amongst us.  Give us the light to recognise your signs and presence to believe and change our ways.  Thank you Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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