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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Matthew 21 verses 28-32

Jesus entered the Temple and, as usual, was surrounded by those who were anxious to hear Him speak. This made the Elders uncomfortable and so they challenged His authority to teach on their turf.

Jesus responded in a typically rabbinic way and in so doing made it clear that he was prepared to treat the Elders as His students. He set them up by telling a brief story, which, if carefully considered would provide their answer.

Even as they identified the parable’s first son, imperfect though he was, as being closer to the ideal, they knew that Jesus and all the people standing around recognized them as being personified by the second son who talked a big game but seldom played.

In their humiliation, the Elders hated and feared Jesus and considered Him a threat to their authority. In their world AUTHORITY meant POWER and POWER meant CONTROL. They were convinced that Jesus was out to arrest control from them.

They could not have been more wrong! Control was not Jesus’ game. On the contrary, He emptied Himself, setting aside the form of God for the form of a slave and allowing others to have control over Him to the point of being nailed to the cross. But not for a moment did he surrender His AUTHORITY.

In the meantime, whilst the Elders fumed in The Temple, some of the people learned a valuable lesson. All legitimate authority can be traced to God and is at its best when it is humble and serving. It is at its worst when corrupted by the thirst for power and control.

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