|J.B. O’Brien ’14 M.S.
This passage tells me two things that should be essential to my faith life: the necessity of following through on my intentions and the ability to change.
Of course, the adage that springs to mind most readily when I read this passage is the well worn phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” This is certainly true in this reading, as the son who did as his father requested–even though he refused at first–is the one who actually “did the will of his father.” Even better still is the ability to align our actions and our words to be consistent.
This is where the Christian life is a challenge for me. I want to live out the Gospel. I know that serving the poor is at the heart of the Gospel. Do I actually serve the poor? Well, sometimes. But other times I go for months without even thinking about it! I proclaim social justice and service to others but I am like the son who answered, “‘I go, sir.’ But he did not go.”
Follow through is key. If I say that I will do something, whether it’s a promise to my kids or a commitment to my senior director at work, I need to do it. This is where the second son fails. He says he will go, but he does not go. Who knows why? There are a million excuses that we all have for why we didn’t do something we said we would do. The Gospel calls us to be people of integrity and people of action. At the end of the day, we need to do what we say we are going to do.
Finally, we all have the opportunity to change. The first son says that he will not do what his father asks, yet he changes his mind and eventually goes to work as his father requested. We can do the same. Often, in the sins of my words or actions, I turn my back on God and refuse to do God’s will. But I know that I can be like the good son and change course, even after I refuse. I pray that God will welcome me to work in the vineyard!