26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
How many times did it happen to you that you agreed and promised to do something, but you intentionally did not do it? Or you initially refused to do something you were asked to do but you changed your mind and did the right thing?
I ask this question for obvious reason: it is evoked by today’s gospel reading in which Jesus tells the parable of two sons who say one thing and do another. Asked by the father to go and work in the vineyard the first son said no but later reconsidered his decision and did the work. The second son, on the other hand, politely said yes to the father but did not follow this through and failed to do the work.
Today’s gospel parable tells us that obedience is in our action and not in our words. Actions speak louder than words. Promises can never take the place of performance. Fine words are never a substitute for fine deeds. Narinig natin ang talinghaga tungkol sa dalawang anak na kapwa nilapitan at inutusan ng kanilang ama na magtrabaho sa ubasan. The first son says “No,” but later changes his mind and goes. The second son instantly says “Yes,” but does not go.
We need to point out that both groups have their faults. But at least the group who turns toward God is to be preferred to the group who turns away from him. The ideal for us, children of the heavenly Father, is to live, behave and act in such a way that what we profess and practice, meet and match. The perfect example for us is Jesus himself – whose life is a perfect “Yes to the Father.”
Like Jesus, our whole life, every aspect of it, must be a “Yes to God.” How we actually live our lives shows what we really believe. The best evidence of what we really believe is how we live. Indeed, our actions, more truly than our words, show what we really believe and to what we are really faithful.
Our life of “Yes to God” starts with our prayer life. Needless to say, before we can say “Yes to God” we should know first what we are saying “Yes” to. In prayer we open ourselves to God and we let God reveal his will to us. And also let God enable us to follow his will. Our “Yes to God” implies spending enough time each day being in the presence of God – talking and listening to him.
In prayer God empowers us to imitate Jesus – that is, to conform ourselves to Christ – who followed the Father’s will and not his own, who spoke the Father’s word and not his own, who did the Father’s work and not his own. We can only say “Yes to God” through Christ, with Christ and in Christ.
Saying “Yes to God” means working in his vineyard. We heard this command in today’s gospel story: “Go out and work in the vineyard today.” This is addressed to each of us. God is telling each of us, “You too work in my vineyard.” He is commanding us to work for him – to work for the realization of his Kingdom. To work for the spread of the Good News of his love amidst the overwhelming bad news in the world, fake news on social media and sad news everywhere. To work for the promotion of the gospel values, particularly of simplicity and poverty of spirit, and trust and confidence in the divine providence, in a society preoccupied with material things and saturated by the distorted values of consumerism.
Let me put it in another way: We have to build our life upon saying YES to God in the ordinary situations of our life. Yes to seeking the kingdom of God first, and NO to pursuing selfish ambitions. Yes to spending enough time in prayer everyday – putting it on top of our priorities. Yes to treating others as brothers and sisters – even those who are not brotherly or sisterly. Yes to serving our community and being good stewards – sharing our time, talents and resources. Yes to being good news to the poor, feeding the hungry, helping the needy, comforting the sad, caring for the sick. Yes to forgiving those who have hurt us and to reconciling with them.
Besides warning us about failing to actualize our ‘Yes’ to God, today’s gospel parable also gives us hope. We may have been slaves to some sin in the past, but we can free ourselves from its hold. We can change our ways, and with God on our side, we can break through the limitations of our past. We just have to let our minds dwell on positive attitudes of faith. We just have to keep our minds focused on God’s goodness.
May our life be a clear and sweet “Yes to God.”