Twenty-sixth Sunday in OT 1 October 2017
What makes us change?
I certainly enjoyed greatly my time with family last weekend for my niece’s wedding. My retreat this week at Trinity Retreat, Larchmont, was challenging and thoroughly enriching. Let me thank the many who supported me with prayer through this time. Please keep that up!
Jesus told a simple story about two sons sent by their father to work in the vineyard. One readily said “Yes!” but did not go. The other said “No!” but in the end went anyway. Why, do you suppose, one changed his mind and did what his father asked when he seemed so rebellious?
Why do people change their behavior anyway? A young pitcher wants to get to be a better baseball player. His coach has had a long career playing and instructing. The wise pitcher listens intently as the coach instructs him about how to grip the ball for the pitch he wants to throw. Sometimes we change because we observe that somebody else has a better way, and we can profit by following.
At times we Catholic people hear the Word of God, or perceive the stumbling efforts of the homilist to offer something useful, understand we are literally hearing the Word of God, and know that it is meant for us. Many lives have turned around when the listener found God speaking directly to him or her in the words of scripture or even in the words the priest or deacon used to share what he had found there.
Some years ago a good friend of mine developed quite a problem with cocaine. At one point I got a phone call and had to drive down to a community north of the thruway to take him to his home after the local police found him sleeping in a crack house in really bad shape. Sometimes bombs have to drop and our whole lives be in peril before we will go where God is directing. Thank God, he reformed and was clean and content when he died several years later.
Workers sent into the vineyard! That is not a simple image of olden times you know. In scripture the vineyard is always the vineyard of the Lord where God has planted the crops and looks to others to help tend them until the harvest takes place. The vineyard is the Church; it is the life of the Church; it is here where you and I work out our own salvation shoulder to shoulder with other fallible people of true faith in Jesus, also sent into the vineyard to share in some of the work of Jesus.
What a tremendous blessing when we come around for whatever reason, recognize what the Father is asking of us in the vineyard, and do it! What a tragedy, with eternal consequences when a person says “Yes!” and then slowly walks away from where they had been directed by God Our Father. May the fate of that lazy, dishonest, and hope-less son never be yours or mine!
Msgr. John R. Murphy,
Visitation Rectory, Norfolk, NY