The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 1, 2017
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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“Where God is, there is a future.”

This week I was struck by a statement Pope Benedict made during his trip to Germany: “Where God is, there is a future.”[1]

I can see a link between what the Pope said and today’s Gospel. Jesus says that we need to change our minds to enter the Kingdom of God: “He changed his mind and went” (Mt 21:29).

Jesus says that tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the kingdom of God before the Pharisees because the former had changed their minds.

What does “to change our minds” mean? This is clear from what Jesus says afterwards: “When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did” (Mt 21:32).

Here we can understand that “to change our minds” is related to “believe.” We need to believe in the signs that God sends us. Jesus mentions that in the case of the chief priests and elders, John the Baptist was the sign.

“To change our minds” means to recognize the presence of God. “Where God is, there is a future.” The changing of our minds is the way to open our lives to a future.

The secular mentality tries to eliminate the presence of God from public life. There is tolerance if we keep our beliefs inside our hearts or in the sacristies, if we only worship God in the temple.

When religious liberty is limited, God is kept off the public square. We can ask whether there is a future for a society that does not tolerate God or religion in public life.

The cultural and then political attacks against the Christian vision of marriage and human life are clearly intended to keep God out. In the same way, attempts to limit the activity of the Church and its institutions in healthcare, hospitals, adoption and schools are attempts to prevent a future for our society.

“To change our minds” is change that comes from belief. To change our minds is to believe more in the truth than to believe in our thoughts. It is an openness of mind. However, it requires a decision: to go work in the vineyard. Without an effective decision, our faith becomes abstract.

We can imagine the joy of the father when he sees his rebellious son coming to work in the morning. It is a good surprise, something he did not expect. The joy of seeing his son coming makes him forget the “no” that he heard the day before.

Working in the father’s vineyard, the son gains a better understanding of who the Father is and that the vineyard belongs to him, too.

“Where God is, there is a future.”

God creates the future. However, he needs our response, our initiative and decision. Without our collaboration, the future does not come from Heaven to earth. We are called to bring the Kingdom of God to this world, to our lives and our society. We are called to bring hope to our world. We need to find that God is with us and proclaim it.

Mary brought us the eternal future with her “yes” to the will of God. We ask her intercession, so that we, in the same way, can be builders of the future with our “yes.”  Amen.

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