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.“
Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before the chief priests and elders. Let’s translate this for today.
Unmarried mothers, agnostics, people who no longer attend church and Muslims are closer to God than some of you priests. No priest wants to hear that. Why is Jesus saying this rather insulting statement? More importantly, is he saying this to us today?
Simply put, those leaders 2000 years ago had forgotten that God calls all of us his children and wants all of us to be close to him, to have a relationship with him. Our Father loves all of us and that love does not discriminate or depend on conditions. None of us earn points with God. There is no favoritism. That is worth repeating. THERE IS NO FAVORITISM. But and this is a big but, being close to God, being in a relationship with God, knowing God is our gift and it is our call to service. The privilege is to serve. If you are looking for a crown, forget it. If you are looking down your nose at the “sinners” of our world, well, you completely missed the point of being called. Leadership is service. In the world’s way of thinking, the boss or head honcho gets the royal treatment. Not so with Jesus. He, the son of God took the form of a servant, and we His ambassadors must do the same.
In my life I have met many single moms who shower their children with unconditional love. I know many generous, kind and loving agnostics. I have prayed with many holy Jews and Muslims. Unfortunately, I have known many priests and “holy rollers” who believe that their status and place of honor is more important than unconditional love, generosity and just plain goodness.
If being of service was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us. We must always remember, that if Jesus, the good shepherd, calls even the most lost sheep back to the fold, then we must do the same.