by Sister Ann Rehrauer
When I first read this Sunday’s Gospel parable, it took me back to my childhood. When I was asked to do something, I’d immediately say, “Yes, mother.” Sometimes I did what she asked me to do -- but other times I’d drag my feet and avoid doing that particular job. After a while, Mom learned to ask a second question right away, “Is that ‘yes mother, I hear you,’ or ‘yes, mother, I’ll do it’?”
In the Gospel parable we have two sons who respond to their father’s request. The first son sounds obedient and says, “yes, father,” but doesn’t follow through. The second son uses defiant words that sound disobedient, but later has a change of heart and obeys his father.
Jesus addressed this parable to the chief priests and elders. Tax collectors and prostitutes, who at one point were considered sinners because of their lifestyle, listened to the preaching of John, repented, and changed their lives. Because of this change of heart, Jesus said, they will enter the kingdom of heaven ahead of the religious leaders who were listening but felt no need for repentance.
As you and I listen to the parable -- which son do we resemble? Are we more like the son who seems religious and says the right words but does just what he wants to do, or are we more like the other son who rebels at first but experiences a change of heart and really does the father’s will? I suspect we’re both at different times in our lives.
What gives me hope, especially in difficult times, is that God’s invitation is always there and God’s provident love surrounds us -- the God who loves both the sinner and the righteous.