Saying Yes with Conviction

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Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

 

Opening Prayer: Lord, I want to hear and absorb your words today and be so attentive and docile as to act on them when I hear your voice. Bless me in these moments of prayer and give me the grace to know your will and the strength to do it.

 

Encountering Christ:

 

  1. Worldly Authority: When our Lord asked an opinion of the chief priests and elders, was he really interested in their answer? Or was he teaching us an important lesson about earthly authority? Earthly authority exercises its full power only when aligned with God’s will. Can you imagine a world where all men and women in authority listened and corresponded to God’s will perfectly? That dream begins with us. How do we listen, hear, and act on what Our Lord asks of us? Each time we choose self-sacrifice over selfishness, we bring the whole world one step closer to God. 
  2. No, Then Yes: In today’s parable, the first son said “No” then “Yes,” which the priests and elders agreed is better than saying “Yes” then “No.” Ideally, as Christians, we would have the internal fortitude and integrity to answer “Yes” and then promptly do what Our Lord asks of us. We want to be like Matthew, the tax collector, who left his custom’s post immediately when Jesus invited him to “follow me.” When we fail, however, we have recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation, where our hope is restored as we receive the strength to answer “Yes” once more.
  3. John’s Message: Our Lord chastised the chief priests and elders for ignoring the preaching of John the Baptist. He had given them multiple opportunities to hear and internalize John’s message. In their unbelief, they were unprepared for the most important moment in their lives—their encounter with Christ. Our Lord is knocking on the door of our hearts every day as we reflect on his word. He wants to give us the grace we need for the day, maybe some instruction, a new insight, or simply the sense that we are not alone. When we miss this sacred time of prayer, we are undoubtedly less prepared for the day, less likely to encounter Christ in the details, and less likely to want to pray on subsequent days. Let’s recommit ourselves to our daily encounter with Christ in prayer, and plan ahead, if necessary, to keep it up even when we’re busy or on vacation. 

 

Conversing with Christ: Lord, this scripture talks to me about our moments of encounter. Do I approach my time of prayer praying Psalm 57:8, “My heart is ready”? I want to be like St. Thomas and John the Baptist, who fulfilled your will without hesitation. Help me, Lord, to say “Yes” and follow it up with action, according to your most holy will.

 

Resolution: Lord, today by our grace I will reflect upon the things I tend to say “No” to and give a cheerful “Yes” instead.


For Further Reflection: Catechism 1808: Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. “The Lord is my strength and my song.” “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 

Written by Maribeth Harper.

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