Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent – Mt 21:28-32
Today’s Gospel is the first of three parables that Jesus uses to explain the judgment of the people of Israel. We can see two different points for us today: first, a warning, and, secondly, a message of hope.
First, the warning. The chief priests and the elders to whom Jesus was speaking were convinced of their own righteousness, and refused to believe in the Baptist’s call to repent. An ancient commentary on Matthew’s Gospel puts it this way: addressing the priests and the elders, the commentator says “You who appeared to be followers of every commandment persisted in your imprudence, refusing to repent and believe or even to follow the example of those for whom you ought to have provided an example. Are we to believe that you did not believe in Christ because you were more sinless that those who did believe in Him? Quite to the contrary, you did not believe because you were more contemptuous of God, more arrogant, lovers of vainglory, hard-hearted, wanting neither to lead them into faith nor to follow them.” We can never become arrogant or proud because of our faith. As Saint Claude de la Colombiere wrote: “Anyone who thinks of what he is, what he has been, and what he can do of himself will find it difficult to be proud. To shatter pride it is enough to remember that the first sign of real virtue is to consider self as nothing at all. We have only to look at Jesus Christ who emptying himself gave all glory to his Father.” We can ask ourselves: do we really recognize our weaknesses and our need for God’s grace? Are we willing to empty ourselves to be filled with God?
However, the Gospel also contains a message of hope. That same commentary points out that “the publicans and prostitutes, whom no one expected to believe, did in fact believe.” Most of us have family members or friends whom, we could say, we don’t expect to come to the faith, at least not any time soon. Yet, God, in His mercy and His grace, can lead them back to the faith. When He does, we should rejoice, especially if they become better Catholics than we are! This isn’t an occasion to be jealous, but rather to rejoice in God’s overwhelming mercy and grace. Do we really believe that for God, nothing is impossible?
Today, let us pray, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Hope, for the grace to be truly humble and, at the same time, to confidently trust that for God, nothing is impossible.