My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
It’s always interesting the readings of the Mass every Sunday have beautiful teachings to us.
Today Jesus asks us a question in the passage of the Gospel that we just heard. He tells us this story that is familiar to us, the story of the father who had two sons.
Now, he has the Chief Priest and the Elders of the People, and I will say, he asks us to decide. To make a decision. An answer to the question:
What is your opinion? … Jesus asks
Which of the two did his Father’s will?
I always think that Jesus wants us to reflect on this parable — to get us thinking. To get us first to reflect on our own lives. And then to reflect on our relationship with one another.
So what is it that God wants from us? The first question that we get to ask ourselves: Why are we here — in this place, in this time; with our families, and the work we do? What is the Father’s will for our lives?
These are big questions! Obviously But that’s the thing about our loving God. He made us for big things. He has great expectations for our life. Every one of us. So we have to think about these big and important questions.
The prophet Ezekiel tells us in our first reading —that God wants us to live. And he wants us to turn away from all the sins that we has committed and start doing what is right and just.
My brothers and sisters, that’s what God wants. He wants us to have the fullness of life. Jesus called it life and life abundant.2 That’s what God wants for us.
But in the second reading that we heard this morning, St. Paul tells us God’s plan, God’s way. God’s path for happiness is a way, as St. Paul reminds us, of humility, simplicity and obedience. It is the way of Christ.
St. Paul says, if we want to be happy we need to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus — with the same mind, the same love, united in heart.
And what does that mean? So St. Paul tells us:
Do nothing out of selfishness or vainglory,
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.
That’s the way. That’s Jesus’ way. It is indeed a beautiful path. And obviously the question for us today is to ask ourselves: if we are walking on this beautiful path? Or are we still doing things out of selfishness or to get glory or praise from other people? Are we just looking out for ourselves? If we are, then we’re going the wrong way. It’s never good to go the wrong way, especially if you are on the freeway. So, if that’s the case, we have to turn around and go back to God. Back to our loving Father.
Jesus, my brothers and sisters, is the only way! He shows us the way to the Father. There’s no other way. Every other path leads to a dead end. Only the path of following Jesus can lead us to life, to happiness — to real happiness. There are so many people out there telling us what we are supposed to do to be happy. You know, sports and entertainment, movies, having things, material things — we all know that that’s okay, but it’s not really what’s going to bring us real happiness.
So let’s ask for the grace today, to reflect on what’s going on in our lives and respond in a positive way. To understanding and loving God’s way for each one of us.
At the same time, we know that part of God’s will for us is that we have a mission. When we say that we are Christians — Catholics — we are saying that we share in the Christian mission, the mission that Jesus’ gave to his Church.
So he gives each of us a responsibility. Just he gave those two sons, in the parable that we just heard. In the parable, the Father says to each of his two sons:
Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.
My brothers and sisters, God calls each of us in the same way. Personally, by name. He calls us every day, my son or my daughter. Go out and work in the vineyard today.
He sends us out — as his children — to work in his vineyard, in his creation. He is calling us to grow his vineyard, to produce fruits of love and mercy in the places where we are, at home, at work, in our neighborhoods and our country. We have to bring that beautiful love and beautiful message that God loves us and he wants us to be happy in our wonderful life.
So as the two sons in the parable this morning — as they have a choice. We also have a choice. As we are listening to the parable, obviously we realize that they had a choice, they could have done one thing or the other. And really, when you think about it, it was not really a difficult decision. It was not that difficult to say clearly, yes, I’m going to go and work in your vineyard. That’s what you want from me, I’ll do it.
Sounds like an easy decision, isn’t it?
But it’s not that easy, as we all know. It’s hard to yes and do it. It’s easy to say yes and not do it. It’s also difficult sometimes, because our reaction is not always positive. Say no, and then thinking about it and doing what God wants us to do. It’s hard to follow Jesus sometimes. We all know that. So does Jesus.
So in the parable today, the one son says, “Ok, I’ll go.” And then he doesn’t go.
But the other one say, “I don’t want to go.” But then Jesus tells us that this person
changed his mind and went. He had a conversion. A change of heart.
And that’s a beautiful lesson for us, my brothers and sisters. We can always turn back to God and in his mercy we will find forgiveness. No matter what. This is the most beautiful thing about God, our Father! Is merciful. We can always turn around and start again, start living the way God wants us to live.
That’s why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so beautiful and important in our own spiritual life and in the way that we live our life here on earth. Because that’s our humanity. It’s so easy for us to do things that are not according to God’s will, sadly. But then, when we make a mistake, we have the beautiful possibility of coming back, because God is always waiting for us with his open arms.
And that’s the reality of our Christian life, of our daily life.
It’s a process of growing. A process of an ongoing conversion. Every day. All the time. It’s a beautiful reality, especially when we think of how merciful and loving God is. So we all feel the first son, sometimes. We get tired. Or we just don’t want to go out into the vineyard. It’s hard not to be selfish. It’s hard to put others first and serve others not ourselves.
But the call that we have today, once again, is a call to respond yes to God. And if sometimes we realize that we are not totally committed, then ask for the grace of God to go there, even when we are saying, “Well, I don’t really want to do it.” With the help of the grace of God and understanding that that’s going to bring joy and happiness to our lives.
So God knows that, he understands the way we are. But he’s calling us every day to follow Jesus. Calling us back to obey his plan for our lives.
So today, let us especially ask for that grace, to say yes to God. To be obedient to the will of God. And knowing that we have the grace of God, the love and mercy of God our Father, every single moment of our lives. And that he’s calling us to have a wonderful life. To have the fullness of life.
And let’s ask Mary our Blessed Mother for her intercession. She can help us go out every day into the vineyard and serve God and our brothers and sisters. So we can follow the beautiful path that Jesus sets before us. The path of happiness and joy.
1. Readings (Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A): Ezek. 18:25-28; Ps. 25:4-9; Phil. 2:1-11; Matt. 21:28-32.
2. John 10:10.