Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
“What is your opinion? A man had two sons.” So begins today’s Gospel, with one man and two sons, as if to suggest to us that there are always two ways to do things. We can always choose between two ways. What Jesus sets forth in today’s story is precisely the story of two sons, of two ways in which we can relate to God.
The first way is that of the son who says “no” to his father’s request, and for that very reason his image is tarnished. However, he then repents and goes to work in the vineyard after all. The second one says “yes,” and thus formally keeps his image intact, but in reality in the end he doesn’t go to work in his father’s vineyard.
“Which of the two did his father’s will?” asks Jesus. Obviously the one who, although he said no, in the end did go. The lesson is a big one: Sometimes in life we formally make wrong choices, but we also have the courage at some point to repent and listen to the voice of God that resonates in our hearts. From that point on, even if our image is tarnished, we try as best we can to follow in practice the good path we have discovered.
It’s also true, however, that oftentimes we have spent our lives trying to save our image as much as possible. People are convinced that we’re good people but in fact we never do anything to earn that reputation. We have become cunning and unable to listen to the voice of our heart.
This is why Jesus has no difficulty using very harsh words in this regard:
“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.”
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.