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Gospel for Sunday, September 27: Matthew 21: 28-32


28“What do you think? A man had two sons. He turned to the first and said, “Son, go work in the vineyard today.” 29And he replied: “I don’t want to.” But then he regretted it and went there. 30He turned to the second and said the same. And he replied, “Yes, sir.” But he didn’t go. 31Which of the two did the will of the father?”. They replied: “The first”. And Jesus said to them: “Truly I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are ahead of you into the kingdom of God. 32For John came to you on the path of righteousness, and you did not believe him; the tax collectors and prostitutes believed him instead. You, on the contrary, saw these things, but then you did not even repent enough to believe him.”

Mt 21: 28-32

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

The parable of the two sons (21.28-32), which is found only in Matthew, is the first of three parables that have the same basic theme: the acceptance and rejection of the Kingdom. The first brother embodies the observant Pharisees, who are obedient in words but not in deeds, the second, however, embodies the sinners who convert by listening to the warning of the word of God. On the one hand, therefore, the Jewish leaders, on the other the despised classes of publicans and prostitutes. The latter follow the path that John indicates to be just: repentance; the Jews, on the other hand, profess but do not perform, they observe the law, not the works of faith. Life according to the law must be completed with the repentance proclaimed by John and Jesus, as a necessary condition for entering the Kingdom.

In its current form the parable undoubtedly reflects the faith of the pagans as opposed to the unbelief of the Jews. Even today, sometimes, sinners appear more available than practitioners.

Today’s Gospel invites us to take our faith seriously. It is not enough to belong to the Church, attend its liturgies, participate in its sacraments, to feel “in place”. What matters is our orthopraxy, personal concrete obedience to the Lord (Ez 18,25-28). The Gospel even announces that prostitutes and sinners will precede into the Kingdom of heaven many who considered themselves “righteous” due to social or ecclesial belonging (Mt 21,28-31). An external, merely cultic religiosity is therefore not enough: “Then you will begin to say: «We ate and drank in your presence and you taught in our streets». But he will declare: «I tell you, I don’t know where you come from»” (Lk 13,22-30); “Not everyone who says to me: «Lord, Lord!», will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father… Many will say to me on that day: «Lord, have we not prophesied… and cast out demons… and performed many miracles in your name?”. But I will declare to them: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity”“ (Mt 7,12-23).

As John will exhort: “Let us not love with words or with tongue, but with deeds and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Jesus states about the sinner: “Her many sins are forgiven, because she loved much” (Lk 7:47). In fact, Peter will say, “charity covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt 4,8). Indeed, according to the word of the Lord, many will be saved only because they have helped the poor even without knowing Christ: “Every time you did one of these things to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Mt 25.40). Just as many will not have access to salvation who, despite not knowing him, have not served him in the needy and suffering (Mt 25,44-46).

Even the Eucharist can be an occasion for hypocrisy, an illusion of salvation (1 Cor 11.29). Think of how many Masses are celebrated for notables of mafia gangs, or for military battalions engaged in the repression of indigenous peoples, minorities, or those responsible for violence, or for economic operators who with their choices cause death from hunger or curable diseases of many poor people in the world; or for us who refuse to truly convert… The Eucharist is always something extremely serious and demanding: celebrating it is not a mere ritual that relieves the conscience: it is becoming one with Christ, to then go out into the world and become a total gift like him, willing to sacrifice their lives for love. “The Lord’s Supper is the center, the heart of the great mystery of the presence of Christ in every time… If we remain on the surface, on the margin of this way of manifesting himself, of being present of the Son of God; if one limits oneself to a formal or ritual consumption of what the Lord’s Supper offers; if contact with this immense reality ends in an intimate and sentimental experience; if celebrating the Eucharist does not break down personal resistance, mental and social categories, does not open up to an authentic interior and ecclesial experience of conviviality around Christ, it means that faith does not identify and does not mature the personality according to the image of God in us who must reveal himself, does not establish true universality, of mercy, of tenderness, of grace, of pacifying gratuitousness. Indeed, hypocrisy divides us, masks us; we don’t have the right dress” (D. M. Turoldo).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


Spazio Spadoni

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