26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: Ez. 18:25–28

Thus says the LORD: You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Second reading: Phil. 2:1–11

Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel: Mt. 21:28–32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “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. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

In other words

by Fr. Sonny de Rivera, SVD (Rome, Italy)

It is never too late to decide and act upon it.

“We all do things we desperately wish we could undo. But, unfortunately, those regrets just become part of who we are, along with everything else. To spend time trying to change that, well, it’s like chasing clouds.” This quote from Libba Bray I tend to disagree. It puts someone who regrets as a no-namer.

What is your biggest regret? The response to this question is a game-changer. It will bring you to a situation of learning more about life through what others have regretted doing. Real regrets are about bad choices. It is a profound sorrow about something you said or failed to do.

In the parable of the two sons, the first son is a classic example of regret. “He came to the first (son) and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today. He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterward, he changed his mind and went.” The change of mind expresses regret that is expressed in concrete action, working in the vineyard.

The Gospel contains the verb to feel sorrow or regret. The feeling of regret motivated the first son to change his mind and instead go to work in the vineyard. Jesus described the chief priests and everyone who heard John’s preaching as having been offered by God the opportunity to change their minds and start living uprightly. But they lacked what the first son had an abundance: the feeling of regret and sorrow. Just like that second son, the religious leaders could have changed, but they did not take the pathway to follow God faithfully.

God offered a “second chance” to those who had taken other paths and choices. Numerous situations in the public life of Jesus attest that those who have a hard time believing that change is either possible or necessary, in the end, can experience transformation and salvation.

How about this reminder, “it is never too late to make a decision and to act upon it.” Repenting and regret are indispensable components to change. Suppose you can count the number of regrets you have in life. You can also have an equal number of opportunities that would have shaped your life for the better. It includes those close to you and forms part of your circle of life. Let us all embrace the spirit of the first son, who believes that there is always room for improvement.

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