The Parable of the Two Sons
Do you ever feel as if God is calling you to do something? Today’s Gospel conveys the message that one can and should stand before God and assume spiritual responsibility. That responsibility is not collective but personal. It confronts each of us with the question, “Where I do stand in response to God’s invitation?”
The parable that Jesus tells is a simple story. A father has two sons. He asks the first one to work in the vineyard. His son says no, but then eventually he changes his mind and goes to work in the vineyard. The second son receives the same request and he says yes, but then he does not go to work in the vineyard. In a way we can place ourselves in this parable.
From time to time, God lets us know that He has a mission for us to do in our world and we need to make a personal decision as to how we respond this invitation. Will we be like the first son and reject the invitation of God? This spiritual indifference will place us in grave peril and can lead to destructive sin. Let’s take the example of a troubled friend approaching you and asking for your help in finding meaning and purpose in their life. This could very well be an invitation to you from God, asking you to bring this individual closer to Him. You may think of all the time and effort that will be involved and reject your friend’s request. In doing so you will be rejecting God’s invitation and going against His greatest commandment “to love one another”. When we say no to God something has gone dramatically wrong.
Fortunately for the first son, as for us, repentance remains a real possibility. He changed his mind and did “his father’s will”. The tax collectors and prostitutes who enter the kingdom of God ahead of the chief priests and elders enter because they repent; they changed their minds and their hearts as this first son did. Don’t ever give up because even the most hardened no can turn into a yes. Look at the stories of so many of the saints. We need to remember that “every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”
Or will we be like the second son who says yes to the Father’s call and then does not take any action? Have you ever listened to the Gospel message where Jesus calls us “to feed the hungry” and said, yes, I will do something about that and then found weeks or months later that you have taken no action. It was Aristotle that first said, “Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.” If you say that you will serve the Lord, then you must be true to this sacred pledge.
Do we make claims, make promises, pledges - but not follow through? Do we talk a better life than we live? Do we engage in the rituals yet do nothing about DOING God's work? What we do is important. Listening, accepting responsibility may be our greatest burden, but it is also our greatest gift. It is what is making us grow up, mature as human beings and as fully human Christians. It is those who “do it right” that matter, Jesus says, not those who “say it right.”
I leave you with the following questions to consider: Who do you usually relate most to, the first or the second son? Where do you stand in response to God’s invitation? Is there something God might be asking you to do that you are putting off or resisting?
God bless you folks, Father Gerard