by Fr D. Ntshangase
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The Gospel of today, as John the Baptist and Jesus did, stresses on the change of heart and mind. It is more on repentance. This repentance is required in order for us to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus in the Gospel is actually answering to a question by the chief priests and elders who asked him, “By whose authority are you doing all these things, who gave you this authority?” They refused to repent and believe in Jesus. Their refusal to repent and believe in Jesus is contrasted to that of the tax collectors and prostitutes. It is important to note that the chief priests and elders were expected to be close to God while the tax collectors and prostitutes were thought to be far from God. Jesus stresses this in the parable of the two sons.
The chief priests and elders can resemble the second son. They promised to work for God but they failed and by so doing they have excluded themselves from the Kingdom of Heaven. The first son can resemble the sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes, who originally chose to go their own way but later repented and took God’s way and by so doing gained entry into the Kingdom. Therefore, repentance is necessary for the entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. In short, what is thought to be far from God is going into the Kingdom of God before what is thought to be close to God. The tax collectors and prostitutes after hearing the preaching of John the Baptist repented, they changed their minds and heart and followed a new way of life. On the other hand the chief priests and elders did not repent even though they knew John the Baptist was righteous.
There is an urgent need for us, Christians, to repent each every day when we hear the Voice of God being proclaimed to us. “When you hear His Voice, harden not your hearts.” This will assure us entry into the Kingdom of God. We all anticipate to be with God in heaven, our prayer is that of the thief who was crucified with Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” These were his words of repentance and they actually guaranteed him a place in Paradise. As sinful as we are, we can still a share in Paradise as long as we repent and adopt a new way of life like the thief crucified with Christ, like the tax collectors and prostitutes. In this way we would have done Our Father’s Will as we always pray “Our Father….your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”