We just heard the parable of the two sons. What does it mean? The key is to see that the Father is God and the two sons represent all of humanity. For His immediate purpose, Jesus specifically connects the two sons to two particular groups of humanity: those who change their ways and those who don't. On the one side you have the prostitutes and tax-collectors; on the other side, you have the Pharisees.
So, the first son, when he was called to do the Father's will in the vineyard-- that is, in the world-- the son refused, but then he changed his mind and did his father's will. This is the group of prostitutes and tax-collectors who, like the first son, were not doing the Father's will. They were sinning. But then they heard the preaching of John the Baptist. (You remember what he said, right? "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!" and "One is coming who is greater than I.") At this, the tax-collectors and prostitutes, like that first son, changed their ways and actually started to do the Father's will.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, like the second son, say that they will do the father's will, but do not. They say they love the laws and that they love God, but they do not. Jesus points it out to them that they heard the same words of John the Baptist as the prostitutes did; they have seen the miraculous conversion of sinners; He even points out that these prostitutes are going to heaven before they are ... And still they will not change?
All of us are in need of conversion. One of the major conversions is to realize when our actions don't match up with what we say. That's what Jesus is dinging the Pharisees for: what they are doing isn't matching what they are saying.
For example, I know that I say that I trust God. It's a very easy phrase to say: "I trust God." But to do it? To actually trust?-- well, that's much harder. I take my office as parochial administrator quite seriously and I worry about finances and I worry about how what I say up here will affect who is in the pews and who leaves and so on-- I worry about these things. And I start to think that it's all up to me; that I have to do everything and that the success of this parish is entirely up to me.
But Jesus is over there. And He convicted me this past week. He said, "Anthony, you're not trusting me." "Oh, yes I am, Jesus." "No, you're not."
(And it's never good to be arguing against Jesus.)
And so I thought. ... And, as usual, He was right. I was saying that I trusted Him, but my doing-- my actions-- were not reflecting that. There was a disconnect between my words and my actions. I needed to place my worries at His feet; to actually trust Him with my preaching and my financial accounting and my schedule and, well, everything. Like that son in the parable.
I think this should be our point of prayer for the next week. Sometime this week, sit with Jesus and ask Him: "Jesus, are there any places in my life where I say something, but do another?" We all have oversights and blindspots. We say we love Jesus or we say we love our spouse or our parents, but maybe our actions don't match that. So, we kneel before Jesus and ask Him: "Jesus, please enlighten me. Help me to see." And He will.
And I know that there are some who are here in the pews who may be thinking: "Well, that's nice, Father Gerber, but it's already too late for me. I'm never going to be able to do this." It is worth noting that, after the Resurrection, in addition to the tax-collectors and prostitutes, many of the Pharisees converted and began to follow the Apostles. So, it doesn't matter how late in the game it was when they turned back to Jesus. The point is that they turned around. Today's a new day. We say that we trust God. So let us trust Him with this. He is God, after all.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.