“Which of the two did his father’s will?” In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a simple story of two imperfect sons in order to illustrate to the Pharisees and elders the way of God’s kingdom. The father expected the sons to work in his vineyard, showing gratitude, loyalty and honor to the family by participating in the daily work. The first told his father to his face that he would not work for him. He changed his mind and did what his father had commanded. The second son did not follow through on his original promise. He chose his own comfort and pleasure, contrary to the will of the father. Who was the good son? Both sons had disobeyed their father, but one repented and then did what the father asked. With all the humiliation of the choice, the second son cheered his father’s heart more than the other. “When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them.” (Psalm 34)
The choices that we make today are truly consequential, both for us and for those we love and are called to influence. The consequences will be seen here on earth as well as in eternal life. The best of intentions are not enough. And promises need to be carried out by a choice to act. God’s desire is that we enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He desires to change our hearts so that by our words and actions we will follow the will of the Father. Through mercy, God has offered each of us the greatest treasure in his kingdom. We can make His heart rejoice if, touched by His mercy, we obey His will.
Let this be our prayer: Lord Jesus, change my heart that I may only desire that which is pleasing to you. Help me to respect your will and give me the strength, joy and perseverance to carry it out wholeheartedly.
—Fr. Charles Sikorsky, L.C., President of the Institute for the Psychological Sciences