Reflection for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Parable of the Two Sons
When we look at the parables of Jesus, we will see that he often uses images and ideas from everyday life. Today’s parable is a typical example.
It tells us that a man asked his two sons to go and work in the vineyard. One said yes, and never showed up. The other said no and later went to work in the vineyard.
Most, if not all of us here would agree with me that there is nothing wrong with parents telling their children to undertake certain responsibilities. It is in fact normal and expected. Some of us would have done that over the course of our life.
I am sure many of us here who are parents and grandparents have experienced this in our relationship with our children.
From the human point of view, we will say the first son is obedient and the second son disobedient, if the only consideration is their first response to the request.
What does this parable have to do with our relationship with God? Just as the father of these two sons had invited them to work in the vineyard, that is how God has invited us into the life of faith.
Some of us will refuse to listen. But over the course of time, we will somehow experience God and make faith the centre of our lives. Some of us will say yes immediately, but will not have what it takes to persevere to the end.
Because the life of faith is tough, I would want us to reflect on what we need to remain steadfast. First, we need to be people of prayer. Let us not forget this popular saying “A prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian”. When we pray, we unite ourselves with Jesus, who then walks the journey with us.
We must also endeavour to commit ourselves to faith daily. It is not a once-in-a-lifetime decision. Here and now, I am called upon to live my life of faith as a person of prayer and service to others. Today I may do well. Tomorrow might be a different story. Each day is a new beginning in the journey with and toward Christ.
Honesty is also very important in this journey. Most of us can see ourselves in both sons in the parable. At times, we may make a deliberate choice not to follow one of the teachings of Christ in a particular situation. Down the road, we begin to feel a tug in the depths of our heart and soul. We feel that something is wrong. At that time, we make a change and follow Christ. Conversion has taken place.
Sometimes, it also happens that we may take the path of the second son. Enthusiastically desiring to follow Christ, we make a commitment to do so, only to fail miserably, due to a weak spirit or lack of commitment or perseverance.
When this happens, we should not throw in the towel. Rather, we should ask God to assist us with the grace of conversion.
My brothers and sisters, conversion is for everybody. Conversion is both for the big and for the small. Each day we must make the commitment to follow Christ, at work, at school, at home, among those we like and those we dislike. This kind of commitment takes prayer. It is only in spending time with the Lord in quiet contemplation that we will know the Lord well, and thus be able to follow Him unreservedly.
Ultimately, a true follower of Christ does not want to be either son of today’s parable. Instead, we want to say “yes” to following Christ, and then go forth and live the teachings of Christ in our life. It is the goal of the Christian journey of faith.
Let us make that the focus of our prayer today and always.