October 1, 2017 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Perhaps you may have heard this story that goes something like this.
- Little Angela was sitting at the kitchen table with her crayons and drawing.
- For a long time, as she worked she concentrated on what she was drawing.
- Tommy, her older brother, came in and asked her what she was doing.
- She replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God.”
- Tommy smirked and replied, “nobody knows what God looks like”
- Little Angela looked up and responded “they will when I’m finished”
I suppose each of us has our own image of God.
- We have a certain way of looking at him and certain expectations on how God should be, how he should treat us.
- That perception is based upon the scriptures we read, the prayers we say and the hymns we sing.
- Last week Jesus told a parable giving an insight into God’s generosity. He told them, “God is nothing like what you think he is.”
- Once again, we have another parable that tells us something of what God is like.
What did you think of the parable?
- It’s rather a simple parable.
- However, it’s important to note however to whom the parable is been addressed.
- At this point, Jesus is in the temple surrounded by both his disciples as well as the Pharisees and scribes.
- The temple authorities pointblank ask him, “by what authority do you do these things?”
- Of course, rather than answer the question directly Jesus tells them a parable.
- Once again we have a parable about the Vineyard.
- This time, the owner has two sons and he needs them to go work in the vineyard for him.
- He begins, by asking the older one if he would go and work in the vineyard.
- He is rather surly and disrespectful in responds, “I Will not.”
- The father then turns to the younger of the two brothers and asks him the same question.
- He is a sweet talker and response along these lines, “dad, of course I will.”
- He knows what his dad wants to hear. However, he certainly has no intention of going to work in the vineyard.
- Then we find out that the older brother thinks about it for a while and changes his mind.
- He decides to go out and work in the vineyard.
- The actual Greek word used in this text is the word “metanoia“
- It means a change of heart or a change of mind.
- In a technical sense it is the word that is used for conversion.
- Think of it this way, the older brother has a moment of conversion, goes to the Vineyard, and does the will of the father.
- This certainly stands in stark contrast to the younger brother.
- Then, of course Jesus asks the Pharisees gathered, “do you think did the will of the father”
- The answer is obvious. Jesus forces them to say, “The first”
- At the end of the parable, things are turned upside down.
- That so called sinners are the ones who are righteous in the eyes of God. They’ve experienced conversion and the mercy of the loving father.
- On the other hand, the so-called holy ones didn’t need God.
- They had no need of conversion. They were convinced of their own righteousness.
Which of the two brothers in the story is most like you?
I like to think that we are like both of the brothers.
- In the parable, the owner of the Vineyard stands for God.
Sometimes times we are like the first brother in the parable.
- At times our response is “no” to God’s invitation.
- Sometimes we resist what God asks us to do.
- Then, after a while we think about it and change our mind.
- We have a change of hearts.
- We realize God’s goodness and what he is asking of us and even though we were reluctant at first, we follow through.
However, other times we are like the younger brother in the story.
- Oh yes we say the right things. We say the things that we think God wants us to hear.
- Then, we get lazy and slack off and don’t follow through.
- For many of us, Lent tends to be that way.
- We have good intentions and are off to a good start. As the weeks go by, we don’t follow through on our discipline and commitment.
- Life sometimes seems to be that way.
Jesus put it this way, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”
However, at the heart of the parable is one important element.
- God always gives us a second chance.
- We always have the opportunity to change the decisions that we make.
- God gives us the grace to be able to change our heart and change our mind and start over again.
- The first son in the parable was given that second chance to go and work in the vineyard of the FATHER.
- As a matter of fact, God gives us many second chances.
- We always have the opportunity, with his grace, to change.
- As a matter of fact, God gives us chance after chance after chance.
- That is the good news of the Gospel.
This week’s gospel challenge is really simple.
- Take a few moments and look into your heart and into your life.
- Is there anything you’re struggling with?
- Is there any place in your life where you are saying “NO” to God when you should be saying “YES”?
- God always gives us a second chance. It’s always possible to start over again and put that part of our life behind us.
- That’s the power of transforming Grace.
- Invite Jesus into your heart and let him be there to change and transform you.
In today’s gospel parable we meet two brothers. Both are invited to the Vineyard of the father.