It’s more about doing than not doing
When Jesus says “What do you think” in the Gospel for today, it kind of reminds me of a class I took at AST. The professor used to give scenarios to the students, and have us use theology to find the answer to the scenario. In the Gospel passage Jesus gives two imperfect examples, the first being the one son who first agrees to work in the vineyard but later decides not to. The second is of a son who first says no to the vineyard, but then later decides to work in the vineyard. I believe that Jesus in the first scenario is telling the people of Israel that they have a heart problem. They have a heart problem in the sense that like the first son, they agreed to a life of faith but later turned away from God and his love and his mercy, but still kept an outward appearance of piety. In the second scenario, Jesus speaks of the tax collectors and prostitutes of the day and how they may have originally led a life away from God. But many of them, after hearing the message God had sent, repented, turned to God and started living lives that were obedient and pleasing to God. One such example I found in my research was Zaccheus. Just like the ultimately obedient son in the parable, they started out saying no to God, but they later repented and did what they knew they were supposed to do – living lives that were pleasing to God.
I say that neither of these scenarios are ideal because the ideal situation would be a son that would say “Yes Dad, I’ll do it!” and then would cheerfully, without complaining, obey his father completely. This kind of son will no doubt bring immense joy to his father.
For me the Gospels are less about don’t do something, as much as it is about do something. So to live out the message of the parable this week we must make our faith life active and obedient to the will of God.
Going to Church on Sunday is wonderful, and enriching, and necessary. However, we worship God with how we live our lives from Monday to Saturday. When we care and love for our children, we are living out this Gospel passage. When we are remembering, and caring for the poor in our community, we are living out this Gospel passage. When we evangelize others and tell them of the joy of the divine life, we are living out this Gospel passage.
Our words – no matter how impressive they are, no matter how convincing they sound, only ring true when they are backed by actions of love and mercy.
God bless you all
Deacon Dan MacDonald