One of the best things we can give to another person is our word. But it is easy to give our word as it doesn’t cost us anything then and there. The cost comes later, if and when we honor our word.
When the father in today’s parable asked his two sons to go and work in the vineyard, one of the sons said an immediate and definitive “yes.” He gave his solemn word that he would go, but he didn’t keep his word, he did not go.
The other son also gave his word. He said point blank that he would not go. However, he later changed his mind and went to work in the vineyard.
Jesus was not holding either son up as the ideal. Yet we can learn from both. The son who said he would go but did not is meant to act as a warning to us. We call ourselves Christians but outsiders sometimes accuse us of being hypocrites because our lives do not bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips. Sin doesn’t necessarily imply doing something wrong. The greatest sin is standing on the sidelines and not getting involved in life. Discipleship demands that we roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. Life is messy at times.
We also learn from the son who said “no” but later changed his mind. To change one’s mind is generally regarded as a fault and a weakness. But this is not always the case. It takes humility to admit one has made a mistake and courage to make it right.
The second son, because he eventually did what his father had asked, is a lot better than the first. The ideal son, however, would be the one who immediately and willingly carried out the father’s wishes. That is what we should aim at doing. Jesus is the model for us. He is the ideal Son. The Apostle Paul said in today’s second reading that Jesus humbled himself “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him.”
The parable teaches us that promises can never take the place of actions, and fine words can never be a substitute for deeds.
Faithfulness is one of the greatest and most necessary things in life. But faithfulness comes at a price. It is not an easy road as it demands unselfishness and sacrifice. However, faithfulness brings with it great rewards in terms of personal growth, peace of mind, and interior joy.
It is said that a person is a good as their word. If that is so, then the question we are being challenged to ask ourselves is: How good is my word?
— Fr. Dennis, September 27, 2020