Again this Sunday, Jesus is speaking to the chief priests and elders of the people - those who treasure the Law and the prophets - and he throws out a parable with a very challenging question, “What is your opinion? A man had two sons…”
I assume many parents, loving their children yet knowing them well, have the expectation that, if they ask one child to rake the leaves on the front lawn, he or she might eagerly say, “Sure, when I get back from soccer practice” and Mom knows the leaves will be there tomorrow. The other child may not refuse but may hem and haw and complain and say, “Aw Mom, really?” but she knows after this little song and dance, the job will get done and be well done! There’s always room for change!
God also knows his children well and Jesus’ life among the people of his time was a continual invitation to change – to embrace the reality that they are loved by God. He simply asks the leaders, “Which of the two sons did the father’s will?” – the one who refused but then went to the vineyard or the one who said “yes” but never went? They know the answer – the first one – it’s obvious to them. Yet, as Jesus points out, when it came to the good news preached by John the Baptist, they never let it change them. They hadn’t let themselves “think outside the box” as we would say today. Then Jesus points out that the very people the elders look down on, the tax collectors and prostitutes, believed this good news, let it change them, and are entering the kingdom of God before the elders. This must have hit them hard, as it does us.
We, individually and as a Church, are easily tempted to (and even fall into) a sense that we are better than another person or group and we can be quite comfy in our little box. Today’s readings challenge us to change – both in our inner selves and in our appreciation of all the riches offered to us through those we may look down on.
Do I believe I can change?
Can I let myself change?
Do I let other people change?
-Sister Marian Baumler
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221