Ummm, let me think
A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.”
This wonderful gospel reading is a great illustration of something each of us has done or has experienced. I can hear my mom asking me to do something. I can hear myself asking my children to do something. I gave and get both of the responses Jesus talked about. ‘No, I won’t’ – then it gets done or ‘Yeah, sure’ – and it never happens.
We have two perspectives to consider and pray over today, that of the person being asked and that of the requestor.
Let’s start from the point-of-view of the person making the request. Like the father in the parable, God asks and seeks a response. He hears both kinds of responses – yes and no, and then waits to see if there will be follow-through.
Jesus illustrates that all of the sinners who were coming to the kingdom had been saying no to God’s requests for years, but finally they stood up to act. He convicts the Pharisees for saying yes, yes, yes for years, but then failing to act and follow-through.
All heard the request of the Father. What we often fail to recognize is that the requestor never stops asking. Unfortunately, our instinct it to think that the Father stopped asking after the first tries. But a deeper look at Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees reveals that God is calling to them once again – this time in the form of Jesus’ parables and words. We can think over the fact that many of these may very well have turned around later in their lives – turning their no into action consistent with God’s request. Acts tells us: And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
From the perspective of the person being asked we realize that God never stops calling us – and sometimes we say yes when we mean no, or no when we mean yes. We should take comfort in the fact that our failure to act will not cut us off from God’s requesting heart. He continues calling to us in many ways. In the end, all He cares about is whether we follow-through.
Today we see so many following-through. Parents, godparents, and grandparents heard God calling, and they ended up taking action. They are doing their Father’s will. They are entering the kingdom with their children and are blessed.
Whether we have said yes or no in the past, God never stops asking. He not only calls, but gives us the strength to respond. In His sacraments He gives us the grace we need to follow-through.