HOMILY FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY (YEAR A)
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
I am writing this reflection from Mount St. Mary House of Prayer in Watchung, New Jersey, as I undergo a personal spiritual retreat. The serenity of the environment is mind-blowing. Here, you can hear the soothing sound of silence that prods the mind to some gainful and transforming introspections.
Coming for the retreat is an actualized decision. If I had ended at the mere thought of going for a retreat without acting on it, it would have been like one of those unaccomplished plans and decisions made by some people in the cemetery. Yes, if those left to mourn the dead write everything on the headstones, you would see things like, “he planned to quit drinking,” “she was close to stopping her gossiping,” “he was about to stop cheating,” “they were planning to build a house,” and so on.
In life, there seem to be two types of people, those who “talk” and those who “act”: if you like, talkers and doers! Where do you belong? Think well before you answer. The Gospel Reading today (Matt. 21:28-32) presents us with a typical contrast between those who talk and those who act, leveraging their respective mindsets.
In the parable which our Lord addressed to the chief priests and the elders of the people, a man had two sons and coming to the first he asked him to go and work in his vineyard, he refused but later went. The second son, who received the same instruction, said he would go but later he did not. Asking them who accomplished the will of their father, they all voted for the first son. Jesus concluded the discourse by telling them that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of heaven before them.
This concise parable leaves us with some powerful lessons that relate to how our mindsets could transform our lives and how we can translate our words into actions. We shall be focusing on the two sons to unveil the attendant lessons beginning with the second son.
The “Talker” Son
Let us remember that the parable was a response to the chief priests and the scribes who were the religious figureheads of the time. They were always quick to quote the religious tenets and recommend same to people for compliance, but do they act on them? The attitude of the “talker” son answers the question.
Remember that the second son agreed to go to the vineyard when the father asked, but he did not go, and the pertinent question we could ask is, why? It would be dismissive to say that he forgot the father’s instruction. Even if we run by that, the question still holds, “why did he forget?” It is all about mindset!
There are two possible reasons; he could be procrastinating, or he became entitled. Procrastination is a well-known thief of time as well as a destructive virus. Countless opportunities have been lost in life because someone was postponing action while thinking that there would still be enough time to act. Time waits for nobody, and if you do not use time, it may use you in a deplorable way.
He could also have felt entitled. One feel entitled when one believes that one deserves certain privileges. The son could have thought that it would not matter if he fails to go to the vineyard; after all, they have paid servants there and the first son who would inherit the v. In his mind, he may have thought that his father would understand.
Do we not often get caught up in this attitude of entitlement as Christians when we neglect to do certain things thinking that God will understand; yes, God does, and that is why He gives us time to do the needful things.
The “Action” Son
The first son sounded like a spoilt child when he refused to go to the vineyard when the father asked. The first son relates to tax collectors and prostitutes, so there could be a reason to believe that he was distracted when the instruction came. One of the malicious functions of sin is to distract us from attending to God’s instructions
The highpoint of the parable was when this son changed his mind and went to the vineyard to work. This would quickly remind us of the prodigal son (Luke 15:17) who suddenly came to his mind, left the distant country, and returned to his father.
How did he come to the point of changing his mind? The Second Reading (Phil. 2:1-11) answers the question. St. Paul instructed the Philippians not to do anything out of selfishness or vainglory but out of humility like Jesus Christ, who did not count his equality with God but humbled himself and became obedient even unto death. It takes humility to change one’s mind and submit to God.
Moving Forward: Turn your Words into Action
One important lesson we could learn from the parable is that God is more interested in what we do than what we say, talk is ridiculously cheap, but action demands more than words. In the Gospel of Luke (6:46), our Lord asked a question, “why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I tell you?” To act, we need to reset our minds because it calls for change. “go and work in my vineyard” also means leave where you are what you are doing to another place and for another activity.
We reflect our mindset, so to change your life, there would be the need to change your mindset. Your mindset sets the miles of our life, and there is nothing as powerful as a positively changed mindset. St. Paul writing to the Romans (12:2) says, “do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind so that you may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Today, you have the challenge of adopting an action mindset in your life. When you say it, mean it by doing. Stop procrastinating when you hear those words that move you. Rise and go into action. Do not allow yourself the misfortune of entitlement. Everything you have is a gift starting from your life. God owes nobody anything; we owe Him all the gratitude through our compliance with an action mindset.
God bless you and have a blessed weekend and a beautiful week ahead. Make sure you set your mind to action; there is no time to do this but now!