Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time| Year A
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir”, but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’
The first son told the father he was not going to the vineyard, but then he changed his mind. His decision to respond to the father’s request, although late in coming, eclipsed the empty words of the apparently compliant second son.
Throughout our lives Jesus presents us with opportunities for spiritual growth and participation in his mission. These opportunities can involve change of some kind.
We often instinctively respond to a suggestion of change in our lives by pushing it away, because it disturbs the status quo. The change may look like it will require work and commitment, as the request to go to the vineyard did. It may mean putting aside what we want to do in order to do respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
The change may require something small of us, such as offering help to a friend when we would rather do something else; or it may ask something big of us, such as a change in our work or location, or addressing some aspect of our personality which is destructive.
When the father asked the first son to go to the vineyard, the son did not want to leave whatever he was doing. Saying no to change is a very human first reaction, and well understood by the God who calls us to change. God does not give up and his prompting will follow us. If our initial “no” is followed by prayer and reflection, we will eventually find peace in making the change. If our thoughts are all about justifying our “no” and developing layers of reasons to support the “no”, then we are in danger of putting what we want ahead of what God wants for us.
We all do this at times when the change seems too big or appears to ask too much of us. Our God is persistent, and he will present us again with the opportunity to respond, perhaps in a different way and in different circumstances.
Our initial “no” is always an interim rather than a final response in the eyes of the God who loves us and calls us to work in his vineyard.