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Faith Daily | 15 December 2020


PRAYER of the Week| ADVENT THREE (APBA p.468):


Almighty God,

you have made us and all things to serve you:

come quickly to save us,

so that wars and violence shall end

and your children may live in peace,

honouring one another with justice and love;

through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord,

who lives with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen



GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 21: 28-32


28 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” 29He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. 31Which 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. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.



GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by Glynn Holland-Leam


The context of the parable of the two sons in today’s reading, is that Jesus is in Jerusalem just a short time before His crucifixion, and the fulfillment of His mission as the promised Messiah. He is in the Temple teaching, and the Jewish religious leaders challenge His authority (Matthew 21:23-27). It is in this context that Jesus tells three parables, the two sons, the evil farmers and the great feast. All are directed to the Jewish religious leaders and all are worth our reflection.


The Parable of the two sons is the story of a father who tells both sons to go and work in his vineyard. The elder son refuses to go but later changes his mind and goes. The younger son agrees to go, but doesn’t do it.

Jesus asks the religious leaders “which of the two obeyed his father?” This question places the point of comparison between the two son’s responses as clearly based on obedience, and the religious leaders apparently answer without realising their own admission of guilt. They are the second son who claimed obedience, but did not do the will of the father.


This parable is linked to the preceding verses about the question of Jesus’ authority, which established the importance of John the Baptist, and how the religious leaders heard John but didn’t believe and obey his message, whereas tax collectors and prostitutes did, and they, said Jesus, “will get into the Kingdom of God before you do” (Matthew 21:31). It is also worth noticing that just before this parable we read that Jesus cursed a fig tree, as He was hungry and it had no figs. It was full of leaves but produced no fruit. Could this be symbolic of a form of religion without substance.


The message Jesus gave here to the religious leaders is clear. It is possible to convince yourself that the appearance and practice of religion is proof of devotion to God, but only obedience to Him and the fruit of that obedience is acceptable to Him. This parable reminds me of Jesus words recorded in John’s Gospel, which invite our reflection, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me” and “Those who remain in me , and I in them, will produce much fruit, for without me you can do nothing” (John 14:21 & 15:5 NLT)



FINAL PRAYER: Frank Colquhoun, Parish Prayers, Hodder & Stoughton


O Lord,

strengthen the faith of us who believe

and sow the seed of faith in the hearts of those who lack it.

Give us grace to show our faithfulness by our works;

teaching us to walk by faith, in reliance on your promises

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

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