“What is your opinion? 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 he 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.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him. (Mt 21, 28-32)
How shall I live this Word?
The parable of the two sons in today’s Gospel is a serious of examination of conscience for us as well in this Advent journey in preparation for Christmas. Is it not true that we also often begin by responding to the Lord the way the second son did in the parable? To the Father’s invitation to work in the vineyard, we respond with a certain formal , ‘Yes, Lord!’, but then we do not go. We obviously feel responsible and on the side of those who are generous before the Lord. There is in us a reflex of generosity considered almost as an inherited good, that authorizes us to think ourselves always on the side of the good, like the Pharisees. But this latent and upright generosity is not enough for Jesus who scrutinizes the heart. Something is missing: it is too conscious of itself and trusts self too much. It has not yet evaluated its own interior weakness and fragility.
This is why Jesus prefers the first of the two sons, the one who began with a mistake and whose presumed generosity was wounded right from the start. He had to humbly begin from the beginning with repentance: “but afterwards, he changed his mind and went’. He is the one Jesus prefers, the one who began with a no, but then repented and went to work, perhaps secretly, in the vineyard.
Those who have found the door of repentance do not need their own generosity only. All comes from the look of forgiveness that the Lord had placed on them one day. They now know that they can dare to respond yes with joy; just like Zacchaeus the Publican, and Mary the sinner, and that wonderful anonymous Good Thief…all of them have gone into the Kingdom ahead of us.
We must all pass through the door of repentance, sooner or later, otherwise we will find no place in the Kingdom, like Peter who stubbornly refused to have his feet washed by Jesus. We too must be attentive to not be stubborn about our own good will, to not remain prisoners of our works and our success.
Lord, I humbly ask Your forgiveness today for the many times I have said yes with my lips and no with my life! Let me not feel better than the others because I practice my religion. Let me know how to remain humbly in the last place and invoke Your Name.
The Word of Jesus
Not those who say Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of God, but those who do the will of my Father who is in Heaven. (Mt 7, 21)