A Life of Ongoing Conversion

October 1, 2023
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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.” Matthew 21:28–30

This parable presents a message of great hope to those who find it difficult to follow the will of God. The first son, the one who said he would not obey the father but then changed his mind, refers to those who have initially rejected the will of God but then repented and turned back to Him. The second son represents those who claim to be faithful followers of the will of God, but are not. This second son presents us with a very dangerous trap we can fall into. He represents the interior disposition of the chief priests and elders of the people. They said one thing but did another. They acted as if they were righteous but were not. They might have even been fooling themselves.

Of course, there is another possible scenario Jesus doesn’t present. Ideally, when the father asked his son to work in the vineyard he would have said “yes” and then followed through with his commitment. But this is not mentioned because no one falls into that category, except for our Blessed Mother. All people have sinned, and everyone needs to repent.

When we look at these two sons, we must humbly strive to be like the first one. We must begin by acknowledging that we have refused to obey the will of God in many ways throughout our lives. God has invited us to serve Him, and we have said “no.” Acknowledging this is an essential starting point for a life of true conversion and service of God. When we fail to humbly admit that we have sinned, we are acting like the second son. We are living a lie and are trying to convince ourselves that we are faithful to the will of God when we are not. This second son represents a very dangerous interior disposition that we must avoid with all of our might. It is the sin of impenitence, a sin against the Holy Spirit. It is dangerous because this type of self-righteousness keeps a person from truly serving the will of God. They believe their own lie and see no need to repent.

Which of these two sons are you most like? Are you keenly aware of your weaknesses and sins? Can you humbly admit them to yourself and to God? Or do you tend to present yourself as one who is holy and does not need to repent? Never be afraid to admit your sin. Never pretend to be someone you are not. Never allow yourself to be drawn into self-righteousness. We are all called to a life of ongoing conversion. Seeing that fact, admitting to it and striving for that conversion will win for us the glorious Kingdom of Heaven.

Reflect, today, upon the many ways that you have initially said “no” to the will of God. Sometimes we do so in grave matters, and sometimes we do so in less serious ways. The humble truth is that we all refuse to fully embrace the will of God every day. The invitation we have been given to obey Him is much more than a black-and-white, yes-or-no answer. God’s call to obedience goes deep and is a call on a continuously deepening level. Keep looking into your soul and confess the ways you reject the will of God. The more clearly you see your sins and confess them, the more fully you will be in a position to say “yes” to the will of God with all your heart.

Most merciful Lord, You continuously call us to repentance. We have all sinned against You and do so every day. Please give me the gifts of humility and honesty so that I will be aware of the ways in which I refuse to say yes to Your perfect will and so that I can repent of those sins and daily turn back to You. Jesus, I trust in You.