December 14, 2021
by Michael Kavan
Creighton University's School of Medicine
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church Lectionary: 188

Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
Psalm 34:2-3, 6-7, 17-18, 19 and 23
Matthew 21:28-32

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Holding Hands with God: Pondering Isaiah

In today’s Gospel reading, Matthew provides the parable of the two sons. Jesus is in the company of the chief priests and the elders and offers the parable of a father who asks each son to go out and work in the vineyard. The first initially says “I will not,” but afterwards changes his mind (possibly repents) and works the vineyard. The other son initially says “Yes, sir,” but did not follow through. Jesus asks, “Which of the two did his father’s will? They answered, “The first.” Jesus agrees, but reminds them that “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you.”

Wow – I have to believe that the chief priests and elders were pretty dumbfounded by what Jesus had to say. Easier for tax collectors and prostitutes to enter the Kingdom of God than us? Really? To me, Jesus’ point is pretty clear. God is asking us to do his work – the work modeled so well by Jesus. And we have a choice – we can talk a big game, but not follow through or we can eventually heed his message and do what’s right. Thankfully, God is patient and gives us time to not only accept His calling, but to act accordingly. Again, it’s the walk, not the talk, that counts.

So, how does this parable apply to us today? I think most of us see the “talk” quite a bit now days. We all know of preachers, governors, congressmen/women, and others who espouse (talk) high moral virtues, many doing so in the name of God, but who then go on to act (walk) in a manner that is antithetical to their original missives or the teachings of Jesus. In doing so, Jesus would likely consider them in the same category as the chief priests and elders. How do we not end up in the same grouping? I think the first thing I must do is to truly listen to the Word of God. Reflect on what work God is asking me to do and then, rather than just talking a good game about following His message, to actually do it – walk the walk. Am I perfect at doing this all the time? Certainly not. However, like the first son in the parable, God gives me and you a chance to repent and to say “yes” to working in His fields in a manner consistent with the teachings and actions of Jesus. And remember, as with the tax collectors and prostitutes, God gives us all a second chance. Are we going to take advantage of it and walk the walk, or are we going to be like the chief priests, elders, and second son and just do the talk. Our choice, but pretty significant consequences…

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