In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers a parable of two sons who are each asked by their father to work in the vineyard. After Jesus shares this short account he asks: “Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first” (cf. Mt. 21:28-32).
The first did his father’s will even though initially he said no. Jesus then goes on to share how tax collectors and prostitutes are like this son. They are because they believed in what John the Baptist was requiring of them, they were preparing for the coming of the Messiah and so they were able to recognize him when he was in their midst. They said no initially to God’s offer but they have said yes now and followed through.
Regarding the chief priest and the elders, Jesus compared them to the son who said yes initially but then did not follow through on their promise.
The question for us today is, “How are we answering to God’s invitation?” Are we saying yes and then not following through, no but now on track, or no and no, or yes and yes?
Advent is the time to discern where we are in our walk with God. This is not a time to be mopey and guilt ridden if we don’t believe we are living up to our potential. If we do that, then we are still not putting God’s love into action. We are still focused on ourselves. The key is to recognize where we are, say yes to the invitation to begin again and start moving with God to be about the work in the vineyard. It is not as important what we say as what we do.
We may have many grand plans and ideas, but until we begin to put those ideas into action, nothing happens.This is also true in our spiritual life. If we are not consistently moving forward, we are moving backward. If we want to improve our relationship with God and be better disciples of Jesus, our first step is to commit to turning our hearts and minds to God in prayer and meditation daily, to slow down, open our ears to hear his word, and then show up.
Starting small by setting a short period of time in the same place each day and then showing up is how we begin our work in the vineyard. By doing so, we are able to hear what God is asking of us. Once we hear his voice, then we have a choice to say yes or no. If yes, then we have a choice to act or not.
Which son or daughter are you? The first, the second, or an un-offered third who says yes and then acts? What we have or have not done, where we are now, is not as important as how are we going to act going forward? Each moment is a yes or no to taking up our cross and following Jesus or not.
Photo: Processional cross as the sun rose a few days ago before morning liturgy.