Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
October 01, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.









O God, who manifest your almighty power
above all by pardoning and showing mercy,
bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us
and make those hastening to attain your promises
heirs to the treasures of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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, he 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.

Responsorial Psalm


R/. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.  R/.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.   R/.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way. R/.

Second Reading Phil 2:1-5 

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.

Alleluia Jn. 10:27 

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."

Catena Nova

The doors are open for all who sincerely and wholeheartedly return to God; indeed, the Father is most willing to welcome back a truly repentant son or daughter.….God pardons what is past, then, but for the future we are each responsible for ourselves. By repenting we condemn our past misdeeds and beg forgiveness of the Father, the only one who can in his mercy undo what has been done, and wipe away our past sins with the dew of his Spirit. (St. Clement of Alexandria)
God did not disdain the poverty of human nature. As God he wished to make that flesh which was held in the grip of sin and death evidently superior to sin and death. He made it his very own, and not soulless as some have said, but rather animated with a rational soul, and thus he restored flesh to what it was in the beginning. He did not consider it beneath him to follow a path congruous to this plan, and so he is said to have undergone a birth like ours, while all the while remaining what he was. He was born of a woman according to the flesh in a wondrous manner, for he is God by nature, as such invisible and incorporeal, and only in this way, in a form like our own, could he be made manifest to earthly creatures. He thought it good to be made human and in his own person to reveal our nature honored in the dignities of the divinity (St. Cyril of Alexandria).
Theologians in all the great faiths have devised all kinds of myths to show that this type of kenosis, of self-emptying, is found in the life of God itself. They do not do this because it sounds edifying, but because this is the way that human nature seems to work. We are most creative and sense other possibilities that transcend our ordinary experience when we leave ourselves behind (Karen Armstrong).
The God-human lived his own life throughout along the line of this simultaneous self-abasement on two levels. Christ our Lord underwent all the limitations and infirmities of human life. He was subject to every human propensity which does not involve sin: he experienced hunger and thirst, exhaustion, grief, temptation—though without yielding to this last. He himself bore witness to his ignorance, or at least the limitation of his knowledge to the measure of human inference. He continually prayed to his Father in heaven as God. His mighty works, his miracles, he performed in the power of the Spirit and of prayer, showing himself in this “a prophet mighty in deed and word. He performed his ministry as teacher and prophet, imparting divine Wisdom in human terms. And finally he fell into the hands of his human enemies and was betrayed to death (Sergei Bulgakov).
The kenosis of the Son reveals the mystery of God who is Love. This gift of life is an extension of a mysterious exchange at the heart of the Deity. In God himself the One does not exclude the Other, it includes it. The Unity of God is so complete, so rich, that it is not solitude enclosed in itself, but rather the fullness of communion. And thereby, the source of all communion (Olivier Clement).
[The Incarnation is like] a wave of the sea which, rushing up on the flat beach, runs out, even thinner and more transparent, and does not return to its source but sinks into the sand and disappears.” From the above you might be able to surmise that kenosis, as with just about anything in theology and philosophy has two aspects: the human and the divine. From the divine perspective kenosis is the self-emptying of God into His creation. From the human perspective this involves the human emptying himself or herself in order to receive the fullness of God. Granted, the two perspectives aren’t entirely mutually exclusive (Hans Urs von Balthasar).

In today’s Gospel, the one who makes the best impression is the first brother, not because he said “no” to his father, but because after his “no” he converted to “yes”, he repented. God is patient with each of us: He does not tire, He does not desist after our “no”; He leaves us free even to distance ourselves from Him and to make mistakes. Thinking about God's patience is wonderful! How the Lord always waits for us; He is always beside us to help us; but He respects our freedom. And He anxiously awaits our “yes”, so as to welcome us anew in His fatherly arms and to fill us with His boundless mercy. Faith in God asks us to renew every day the choice of good over evil, the choice of the truth rather than lies, the choice of love for our neighbour over selfishness….   But conversion, changing the heart, is a process, a process that purifies us from moral encrustations. And at times it is a painful process, because there is no path of holiness without some sacrifice and without a spiritual battle. … But this, even the smallest concrete commitment, cannot be made without grace. Conversion is a grace we must always ask for: “Lord, give me the grace to improve. Give me the grace to be a good Christian”. (Pope Francis)


Whom do you think he had in mind?  These characters we've been meeting in these parables?  The "last will be first" types?  Those who work in the Lord's vineyard with rather unexpected outcomes?  For several weeks running we will have met up with stand-ins who are highlighted by their contrasting attitudes to Jesus and his version of the Reign of God.  Today it's the two brothers. 
 Well, it's pretty clear — given those to whom the parables were addressed — that we're dealing on the one hand with Jesus' co-religionists, especially the chief priests and the elders of the people and, on the other hand, the often unlikely characters who were receptive to his message — tax collectors and prostitutes among them. While the former just couldn't buy into Jesus' vision of a God who would do such preposterous things as give equal pay to everyone no matter how long they worked, or a merciful king who would outright forgive an enormous debt just for being asked.  That didn't sound quite right to the partisans of the Law and upholders of a way of righteousness (G) based on its clear demands.  And worst of all, the thought of a God who would empty himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness [and] humble himself (cf. II) — well, that would prove altogether too much.  
But there were others who would find such a vision rather appealing.  We meet up with them pretty much every week —  people willing to go out and work in the vineyard (G), no matter how much their debt, or the hours they worked, or their previous reluctance to live a better life, people who would come to look out not for their own interests, but also for those of others and adopting the same attitude that was also in Christ Jesus (cf. II).
But that was then and this is now.  Where might we find some counterparts to the characters in these parables and their intended audience?  Well, there's something happening this coming week where those two brothers in today's parable just might find a few more siblings. For on Wednesday a gathering in Rome will begin unlike any that has preceded it.  What would normally be an assembly of only bishops will begin a series of discussions on issues facing the church, but this time there will be laypersons — men and women — participating and who, believe it or not, will even have voting rights.  As you might imagine, this was Pope Francis' idea.  He considers this meeting so important, that it was preceded by global consultations, local and national, seeking input from a wide spectrum of voices.  It will be followed up by a second assembly to be held next year for yet further reflection and discussion — all before the pope issues a summary document or acts upon any recommendations that may come forth.
And the topic for this assembly?  "Synodality."  Which literally means  "walking, or journeying, together along the same road."  Perhaps you've not heard very much about this unusual "Synod of Bishops" — which is unfortunate.  Naysayers abound who feel the whole thing is a dangerous venture that could open the church to all kinds of deviation from tradition.  Others, somewhat cynically, have little hope that such events ever produce much fruit, if any.  After all, the Diocese of Rochester had a much ballyhooed synod of its own in 1993.  Thirty years later, one would be hard pressed to locate much commitment to most of its five top priorities.  The results of the consultations for this synod can be found  at  As you might imagine, a lot has changed.   
Still, these efforts were an attempt, made with greater or lesser enthusiasm —  the two brothers again! — to foster "the ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received, [and depending] largely on the decision to initiate processes of listening, dialogue, and community discernment, in which each and every person can participate and contribute" (Instrumentum laboris, 9).  
And in the working document for the Synod prepared by the Vatican one thing is highlighted before such a different future can happen: "The whole Church is called to deal with the weight of a culture imbued with clericalism that she inherits from her history, and with those forms of exercising authority on which the different types of abuse (power, economic, conscience, sexual) are grafted" (no. 6).
And there you have the real parallel with those two brothers for they could be seen as emblematic of two very different visions of the church, its life and mission, one that pays lip service to the whole thing and secretly wishes the Synod to fail, and those who, perhaps with some initial reservations, hope it will help usher in a new day for the church.  I for one hope for a change of mind (cf. G) among the former, much like the one the second brother had who, despite his initial refusal, went to work in the vineyard.  The biblical word for that, of course, is "conversion."  Which we all need if we will ever have a church "that includes the active participation of all the members of God’s People" (no. 6). 


For the Church, on the eve of a new phase in the synodal journey, that the presence of the Gospel, alive and at work in her, may make her like the vineyard in the parable, a vital place where all men and women who seek meaning in their life find a place, a word, and a breath of hope.
For us gathered here in communion with Christian communities throughout the world: that by tasting the goodness of the Lord that comes to each one in the body and blood of Jesus, we may receive from him a fresh view of our neighbor and be made witnesses to generosity in the world in which we live.

For the grace of conversion: that God will help all who have made poor or destructive choices to change course and follow Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

For peace in our cities and neighborhoods: that God will help us recognize the systemic injustices that exist within our communities and give us the courage to work for change and reconciliation.

For all who are suffering from the aftermath of hurricanes, floods or wildfires: that God will protect them from further harm, help them to connect with family and friends, and fill their hearts with courage.

For migrants and refugees: that all who have fled violence, starvation, or persecution may find welcome and places of safety to live.

For healing of the earth: that God will inspire us to act boldly in addressing climate change and other abuses of the earth so that those who are suffering may be relieved and that the future may hold many blessings for the human family.

O God, you alone judge rightly and search the depths of the heart.  Make us swift to do your will and slow to judge our neighbour, that we may walk with those who follow the way of repentance and faith and so enter your heavenly kingdom. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Offertory Hymn (John Michael Talbot)

And if there be therefore any consolation
And if there be therefore any comfort in his love
And if there be therefore any fellowship in spirit
If any tender mercies and compassion

We will fulfill His joy
And we will be like-minded
We will fulfill His joy
We can dwell in one accord
And nothing will be done
Through striving or vainglory
We will esteem all others better than ourselves

This is the mind of Jesus
This is the mind of Our Lord
And if we follow Him
Then we must be like-minded
In all humility
We will offer up our love

Though in the form of God
He required no reputation
Though in the form of God
He required nothing but to serve
And in the form of God
He required only to be human
And worthy to receive
Required only to give

 Communion Antiphon

Closing Hymn 

Take O Lord and receive All my liberty Take O Lord and receive My memory, My understanding My entire will You have given me all that I have, You have given me all I possess I now give it back to you.
Take O Lord and receive Everything that I am Dispose of it according to your will Give me only your love And your grace O God And is enough for me.
Take O Lord and receive Take O Lord and receive For you have given me all that I have, You have given me all I posses I now give it back to you.