“’What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. He went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you…’” (Mt 21: 28-31)

Here Jesus is speaking at the temple, specifically to “the chief priests and elders of the people” (Mt 21: 23). He is telling these religious “professionals,” the ones who “talk the talk,” that they are not “walking the walk,” – the “walk,” that is, into the kingdom of God. Because they were not, in fact, “going and working” in God’s vineyard, although they claimed to be doing so, as teachers of the people. Sure, the chief priests and elders “worked” as instructors of their great Tradition, but they had become closed to the voice and call of its Author. So it was their own “vineyard,” not God’s, in which they worked, fostering their own sense of privileged, elite identity and authority, as if they “owned” Tradition. Sadly, however, and perhaps unnoticeably for them, it had become all about them, rather than God.

But the tax collectors and prostitutes were outcasts from that elite, not burdened by any sense of entitlement to, or ownership of, Tradition. They had nothing of themselves, and were nothing of themselves, when God changed things up, and sent us a New Employer, His Son. Let me also open my heart to His call this morning, because I also have nothing, and am nothing, of myself and without Him. Lord, teach me today, and guide me, that I may work in Your vineyard, rather than my own. Amen!

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