"What is Your Opinion?"
John the Baptist with the Scribes and Pharisees
(Bartolome Esteban Murillo - 1665)
"What is your opinion?": In our understanding of the unfathomable depth of the Divine Wisdom of the Lord do we truly contend that God is stirred to interest by our multiple and changing opinions? Do we believe that Jesus, sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven, is tuned into the Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow Show, or The View or The Five? If he is tuned in, it is not via radio waves or the internet for the purpose of being guided by a relentless commentary. God tunes into human hearts and minds rather to add his own profound commentary. If we are to listen and hear, we must be tuned in through the proper frequency of prayer and the word of God – frequently.
For the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time the Church offers us as our gospel reading, Matthew 21: 28-32. Here we observe Jesus asking the chief priests and elders of the Jewish people: "What is your opinion?" He does this not to elicit the views from his non-studio audience. In fact, Jesus does not wait for them to answer with the usual human response – a long discourse of personal thoughts and feelings. Instead Jesus focuses his solicitation of their opinion on a simple selection of two possibilities: which one of these two sons did his father’s will?
In the parable in the gospel reading, the first son told his father that he “will not” go out and work in the vineyard, however, later he does. The second son is respectful and says “yes, sir”, he will go out and work – but he does not.
The chief priests agree that it was the first son who did his father’s will, indicating that their opinion is that the one who acts rather than simply the one who speaks is the child who pleases his father. Thus Jesus subtly leads them to the conclusion that the one who answers the call is the one who does his divine Father’s will.
Jesus then proceeds to warn these priests and elders that prostitutes and tax collectors – public sinners - will enter the kingdom of heaven before them. Such determined sinners will not of course enter first because, respectively, they violate the body and cheat the tribes, but because as Jesus notes, they believed John the Baptist. Some particular prostitutes and tax collectors believed in John’s call to repentance. They believed in his testimony that Jesus is the savior of the world. Thus they changed. They drew near to the Son of God.
However, the elders and the priests that Jesus spoke with did not change, for as Jesus tells them, “even when you saw that (i.e. change in sinners) you did not later change your mind and believe [John].” This is the New American Catholic Bible translation. The Catholic Revised Standard Version is even more direct: “…you did not afterward repent and believe him” (Mt 21:32).
Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had asked the opinion of the Jewish scribes, “… which is easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say “Rise and walk’?” (Mt 9:5). Jesus was asking, what is greater proof of my authority: my words of mercy which you cannot confirm because you do not yet live in the Spirit or my utter transformation of a person suffering physical paralysis? After the astounding miracle of the paralytic, Jesus could have spoken the very same words to the unbelieving scribes that we now find him saying to the elders and chief priests: even when you saw this you still did not change your mind, and repent.
What Jesus is teaching in both these scenes is that the greatest miracle of all is when a sinner is stirred by grace, cooperates with faith (be it even as small as a mustard seed) and grows to a sincere conversion of heart and a new way of life. The prostitute and the tax collector or the pornographer and the fornicator, etc. – all those who are now stubborn and say “I will not” but who later do – are a miraculous sign of God’s infinite grace, and their conversions should have been enough for the doubtful Jewish leaders to “change their mind”, and believe John the Baptist who pointed to Jesus.
Instead of jealously or obstinacy they should have rejoiced at the purification of the hardened sinner. So should we do, as we first seek diligently their conversions in the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Be in the Presence of Jesus: On Easter Day some of Jesus' disciples who knew of his suffering and death on the cross just two days prior, were walking and talking and probably lamenting over the horrific crucifixion of the person they thought was the Messiah, the Savior of the world. They were on their way to Emmaus, a town some seven miles distant from Jerusalem. The resurrected Jesus caught up with them, "but their eyes were kept from recognizing him." (Lk 24:16) They told Jesus of the great prophet who had been delivered up to death, and that even now his body was not in the tomb where his disciples had laid him. They did not undrstand.
Jesus therefore explained to them all the prophecies concerning the Messiah and how he was to suffer and all the mysteries that related to him and their hearts were "burning" inside them at his words and presence. Then Jesus, "took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight." (Lk 24:30-31).
The Eucharist is an eye-opener! It is in the Eucharist that Catholics most recognize Jesus here on earth. It is important to note that St. Luke in his gospel states that the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread and not in the "bread" itself. This is because the bread was no longer mere bread but the same Body of Christ that the Lord fed his Apostles at The Last Supper. This post-Easter encounter on the way to Emmaus was a training session in the Real Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus the physical person vanished, however Jesus the Holy Eucharist remained! It is in the blessing and breaking - the consecration of the bread into the Body of Christ - that the Church was expected to recognize Jesus until his Second Coming.
It takes grace and faith to recognize Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. In the Eucharist, one's eyes are kept from recognizing him, however one's mind and heart and soul burns in recognition. Catholics must pray fervently for this grace and the grace of Adoration, and the best place to do this is before the Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
Come to the parish church of St. Francis Xavier of Acushnet and pray before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It is only in doing so that you will come to greater understanding by being in the Real Presence of Jesus, just as the men on their way to Emmaus recognized Jesus, only after he vanished from their sight, in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Parish Rosary CD is available for $5.00.
Copies are available at the parish office.
It is also sold on iTunes.
You can click on image and play the Rosary from this site.
Got Evening Prayer? We do! Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening in the parish church beginning at 6:30pm & concluding before 7:00pm. Please look for more information about Evening Prayer under the above home page heading: Parish Life & Liturgy
The church is open for prayer every day. Please call the office at 508 - 995 - 7600 if you require use of our wheel-chair lift.
A Special Holy Hour: for Iraqi and Syrian Christians and other victims of the terrorist group ISIS will be held on Friday, September 26th from 7:00 to 8:00pm. Monsignor O'Connor has called on all parishioners and Eucharistic Adorers to keep this particular Friday as a day of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. At 7pm that evening we will begin a special Holy Hour to pray for the protection of these Christians. At some point that evening we will take up a collection for the Knights of Columbus fund for our suffering brothers and sisters. Please join us in prayer and please be generous in your offering for this special cause.
New Season: Our second of ten adult education presentations for the new religious education season will be presented by our Director of Pastoral Services, Steven Guillotte on Sunday, October 5th at 9:15am and Tuesday, October 7th at 7:00pm. The presentation is titled: The Beatitudes: The Way to Human Happiness?” This session will delve into what it means to be 'poor in spirit" and how best we are to live our lives to gain eternal happiness in these beatitudes or promises of Christ . All parishioners and their guests are welcome.
SFX Blood Drive: Our 4th and last parish blood drive of 2014 will be held on Sunday, October 26th from 7:30am to 1:00pm. Our total units donated this year is 79 pints of blood. We expect that with your support we will break the 100 mark for the year - our best year yet. Thanks for participating in this very pro-life event.
Thank You: to everyone who made our Day with Mary such a great success. We had over 100 people attend the 10am Mass and about that many enrolled in the Brown Scapular. Special thanks to the Franciscans of the Immaculate for their sponsorship of this event.
Recent Photo's & Events
May 04, 2014
St. Francis Xavier of Acushnet is a lively parish with many activities and opportunities for worship, prayer, and community. We extend to you an invitation to our parish family in hopes that you may join in our devotions and our reverent celebration of Holy Mass. Please contact us with any questions you have regarding our parish and living a life in the Catholic faith.
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