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26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – MT 21: 21:28 –32

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells the parable of two sons, who say one thing but do another. Asked by his father to go and work in the vineyard, the first son said, “No,” but later changed his decision and did his father’s will. The second son, on the other hand, said, “Yes” to his father, but failed to do his father’s will. Who actually did what his father wanted?

I remember a story of a king, who was seriously ill and in a very critical stage. The king wanted a kidney transplant surgery to save his life. The king’s minister announced this important news to the people. The people loved their king and came to his palace; each one shouted, “I can offer my kidney to the king.” The minister said, “We don’t need all your kidneys, we need only one kidney.”

To select a person, the minister blew a small piece of cotton into the crowd. The person on whose head the cotton landed would give his or her kidney to the king. When the cotton came near each person’s head, each one blew it to another person to avoid the cotton. Finally, the cotton did not reach anyone’s head. These people spoke only giving lip service but did not actually want to give their hearts to their king.

This story is very similar to what Jesus said: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Our challenge is to transform words into action, to make our “Amen” a reality of life, to internalize the words we pray, and make a life of prayer. Then others will come to know Christ not by our words but by our actions.

From the gospel story, we can imitate the first son, who said, “No” to his father and later changed his fall and mistake and did his father’s will. Now, our question is – who was really the good son? Both sons disobeyed their father but one repented and then did what his father told him. This gospel story makes clear the point that – our good intentions are not enough but our intentions should bring us into the reality of life. This is a challenge for us! It is easy to say many good words and give promises but many times, we are not ready to sacrifice or share with others what they really need. Our promises do not count unless they are performed! In our lives too — when we fall by our own sinfulness and walk away from our heavenly Father — once we realize our sinfulness, we should come back to the Lord as the first son, who said, “No,” but later changed his decision and did his father’s will.

The gift of faith reminds us that although we are all made by God as “good,” we are also made imperfectly. Like the first son in the gospel, do we listen deeply to the Lord’s invitation and pray for a change of heart? The choice is ours! Jesus encourages us to think- to think about the consequences of our choices, especially that the choices and decisions we make will count not only at the present time but for our eternity as well. Tax collectors and prostitutes were fallen people but they used their wills and God’s grace to get up and walk with Jesus. Let us remember that God is here in our falls, too, not so much to catch us, as to give us the grace to fall towards grace; then we can rise to a new spring of life!