December 15, 2015

The Gospel Today

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the 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.’
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he 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.”

Reflection (Sem. Jasper S. Bautista)

Philippines, Prisoner behind bars praying the rosaryToday’s Gospel speaks of righteousness and of God’s saving mercy for all of us. It tells us that we are all loved by our Father despite our sinfulness. Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, proved this when He opened the path of salvation to us.

Last November 29, the first Sunday of Advent, my batchmates and I served at the celebration of the Mass at the National Bilibid Medium Prison. This prison facility is where convicts having 6 to 20 sentence are detained. I came to meet Glen, a juvenile who was jailed just about when he turned 18. He is one of the members of the pastoral council and the liturgist in the chapel in that prison. He already served nine years and happily informed us that he is about to be paroled this month. I could see the glow in his face.

During the homily, the priest shared about homecoming and the preparation of the people’s heart to receive Jesus rather than the external decorations that make people busy during the season. One by one I saw the prisoners cry. I saw one or two from the choir. A number from the congregation shed tears and the last person I saw crying was Glen.

I may not be able understand what they felt, but their faces vividly showed that they are remorseful for their mistakes and are hopeful of forgiveness. Their tears of joy were apparent. I know Glen was even happier as he is about to go home after nine years of imprisonment.

I know they all possessed contrite and repentant hearts and I know that God, our loving and merciful Father, will be more than willing to welcome them back and embrace them.

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