With ever-rising living costs, many families and community groups are increasingly resorting to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) in an effort to cut costs wherever possible. Community and faith groups like our own are relying on volunteers more and more in ensuring they can minimise running costs and remain viable. In such arrangements, it is important that everyone fulfils their responsibilities as assigned or as they’ve volunteered to do. Rebellious, unreliable and uncooperative behavior can easily derail a family and or community from their purpose.
Today’s gospel story or the parable of the two sons is one of the three parables we shall hear from Jesus over the next three successive weeks. The other two parables are of the evil tenant and of the royal wedding. Though different, they will point to one theme; our relationship with a God who loves us deeply. The two different responses and actions of the two sons to their father must be read in light of the relationship the Israelites had with God; and so, ourselves in this time. As a chosen people, the Israelites were to be God’s people and He, their God. A covenant of love; but also, of rights and responsibilities. The Israelites were to carry out God commands; of loving God and neighbor. God was to protect and provide for the Israelites.
On the other hand, we had the gentiles. They had their gods and a way of life totally opposed to that of the chosen people. They worshipped differently and offered sacrifices to their molten gods. For that reason, gentiles were despised by the Jews. According to the Jews, gentiles had no place in the plan of salvation. Likewise, gentiles remained for most part, on the outside; physically, psychologically and even spiritually. But that must have made the gentiles to think really hard about the course of their lives. While they did this, the Jews grew in complacency not paying attention to their love-covenant with God.
The two sons in the gospel today could as well represent these two groups. The second son who says yes to his father and never does what he was asked is like the chosen people; the Israelites. The son first who says no to his father but then goes on and carries out his father’s wish represents the gentiles – they think better of it and start to carry out God’s command. This is certainly good news! It is never too late to review our lives and relationship with God. There’s always an opportunity for change and conversion. In this gospel, there is another lesson too. There is never time to take break for those who have said yes to the will of God. We must forever remain focused on the love-covenant and our relationship with Jesus.
As Christians, we go back to the day of our baptism. On that day, we vowed on our own behalf or someone did it on our behalf as infants, to love God above all else and to love our neighbor. But in the course of our lives, many at times we choose to live contrary to this promise. When hatefulness, resentment, and indifference get the better of us, we have failed to honor our love commitment that is the mark of our Christian vocation. When we invest all our time and energy in material things, we forget to place our trust and reliance on God who provides for us and sustains us.
In light of this gospel, we are invited to practically examine how we have witnessed to Jesus. Have we only paid lip service or have we actually put our faith in action? For instance, do I participate in my church/parish ministry? Am I available to the needs of my parish/church community? Do I grumble when called upon to assist in some aspect of our Church life? Have I honored my pledge to the parish/church community? For the times I have taken the love of God and my faith for granted, I take time this week to ask for His mercy. I recommit to show gratitude and appreciation for the gift of His presence, providence and love in my life. I rest in the assurance that God is all in all!
Fr Cyprian Shikokoti, Parish Priest