This story goes back to an unknown Monk who lived around 1110 AD:
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it is hard to change the world, so I tried to change my nation, but I could not.
When I found I couldn’t change my nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town, and I tried to change my family, but I could not.
Now, after all these years, I realize that the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. The impact of my town could have changed the nation, and I could indeed have changed the world.
Parents expect their children to change and become more obedient; children expect their parents to change and become more tolerant, teachers expect their students to change and become more attentive and serious with their work and students expect teachers to change and give them lesser work to do. The government expects the citizens to pay their taxes and become law-abiding, citizens expect the government to change by fulfilling their election promises and providing more amenities.
The list is endless; everyone wants others to change, but only a few are ready to be the change they expect. The monk in our opening story captures the heart of change; it should begin with us; from our minds from the way, we do things, from our ways of life.
In the First Reading (Ezekiel 18:25-28), the oracle of the prophet tells us about the people’s judgment that: “The Lord’s way is not fair!” They were making that comment because they feel that the good they did in the past would suffice for them in their present wickedness; that could only be a human way, not God’s way.
God’s way tells us to be consistent in doing good, and when we, peradventure, falter, we should turn around (change). Hence, the prophet says that God will preserve the life of a wicked person if he changes his way. With God, there is always an opportunity for us to change; in fact, he needs us to change for our good.
In the Gospel (Matt. 21: 28-32), our Lord uses a short narrative to describe to us that change is not what we say but what we do; it is a decision that happens in our minds first before it becomes manifest.
A man tells his two sons to work in his vineyard. One says we would not go and later changes his mind and goes to work. The second promises to work but then changes his mind and did not go. From the story, the two sons made different verbal statements and did different things.
Righteousness does not consist in our oral presentations. Every Easter vigil we renew our baptismal vows to reject sin and the devil but how many of us keep to that. Often, we promise God that we shall become angels if He fulfills some needs for us only for us to forget such promises and continue the way we live.
The message today hinges on positive change because change can also be negative like in the case of the son who promised to go to work fails to move. Change is what we all need in our lives; in fact, most of our problems arise from our inability to embrace changes in our lives beginning from our minds.
If God is inviting us to change then, we should understand that change is significant for us. It was Albert Einstein who says that we cannot be doing the same thing the same way and get a different result; for him it is insanity. If we look closely at most of the biblical events, we could understand that change is recurrent.
- God asks Abram to switch to a new location (Gen. 12:1-4).
- God asks Moses to change his position from exile (Exodus 3:1ff).
- God changes the Kingship from Saul to David (1Kings 16:1).
- When he sinned, David prayed for a change; a clean heart and a renewed spirit (Psalm 51:10).
- God asks Joseph and Mary to take the child Jesus and change location (Matt. 2:13).
- The woman with the issue of blood had to change her position to receive healing (Luke 8: 42-48)
- Saul becomes Paul after an encounter with the Lord (Acts 9:1ff).
Often, we blame the wrong persons and things for our woes. Our problem is mostly “us” and especially our inability to embrace positive changes. We cannot expect the world to change while we remain the same. We need to change the way we see and do things to be able to receive that change we hope:
- Some of us always see failure in everything; we need to change and begin to see success!
- Some of us see the devil in everything; we need to change and begin to see the hand of God!
- Some of us see enemies everywhere while the enemy might be us. We need to change and start to see helpers in our destiny!
If we change the way we do things, things will change for us. Today may be the fateful day for you to make that turnaround; that change you have been thinking about in your life. Rise, do it, and you will be blessed.
Have a beautiful Sunday and a glorious week ahead.