Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“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 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.”
This week’s Gospel (Matt 21: 28-32) hinges on the delayed reaction of the first son, who changed his mind, and went out into the field as his father asked him. This son becomes a kind of hero in the parable because he is faithful. We, too, want always to be faithful, and we might find ourselves in similar circumstances of refusal, followed by a conversion of the moment, and then fulfilling God’s will in the end.
Isn’t it true that when faced by a difficulty in life, or an unexpected demand is placed upon us, we find ourselves in a position of rebellion? Why is this? It comes down to simple pride and humility. We go through our days building a kind of world of our making: work; family; recreation; free-time. Whenever that is interrupted we can easily rebel: “I will not go out to the field.” But this is usually just a first (prideful) reaction, and should not be taken too seriously as the final answer. Rather, one’s second reaction is usually the more humble, reflective, and considerate (“he changed his mind and went”).
The key to a proper second reaction is reflection. We need to pause, recollect ourselves, and then make a decision in favor of carrying out an act of service when asked for it. Let’s give ourselves a minute and reflect whenever we are approached with a new demand in our life of faith. Many times we are asked to “work in the vineyard today”; while our first reaction might be one of a rebellious “no!”, may our second reaction (the more important one because it is the reaction of conversion) be an action-item: like the faithful first son, may we always go out to the vineyard of the Lord.