We are gradually coming to the end of the Liturgical Year, it actually concludes next Sunday with the Feast of Christ the King. Over the last few weeks the Gospel texts have been increasingly stressing the importance of being ready for Christ’s Second Coming. This is appropriate since on the final Sunday of the Liturgical Year we look at the Last Judgement.
We are approaching the end of the liturgical year and the tone in the Gospel texts is stressing more and more that we must be ready and prepared for the second coming.
The parable we are given today about the wise and foolish bridesmaids puts this need for preparedness quite starkly.
Today’s Gospel presents us with a bit of a dilemma since Christ forbids his disciples from using the title father or teacher and yet we find ourselves using these titles all the time.
By the time of Jesus, Jewish Law had greatly expanded from the original ten commandments. One writer says that there were 613 actual laws as well as 365 prohibitions (one for every day in the year) and 268 prescriptions (one for every bone in the body).
The Pharisees decide to trap Jesus. They have taken enough stick from him and now they decide it is pay back time.
The parable set before us today is a harsh one. I think that this is quite intentional. Jesus’ ministry is coming to its conclusion, he has already made his solemn entrance into the Holy City and he has told the people a number of important parables which we have heard during these last few Sundays.
The parable we are presented with today is the third in a line of three parables to be found in Matthew’s Gospel which concern themselves with vineyards. It is no mistake that Jesus often uses the vineyard as a symbol of the Kingdom of God.
The Parable of the Two Sons which is unique to the Gospel of Matthew is probably one of the most easily understandable of all the parables of Jesus. It describes a situation we can all identify with and one that we surely all have experienced.
There is a lesson in Economic Geography in our Gospel reading today. I say this because the parable gives us an insight into the social and economic structure of Palestine at the time of Jesus.
In the Gospel given for today we hear Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. Peter poses the question, an entirely practical one, by asking how many times we must forgive those who sin against us.