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The Will of the Father
Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Jesus said to the chief priests and the 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.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he 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, adjust my thinking about the work you ask of me. As I sit before you in these moments of prayer, work in my heart. When you ask me to go out and “work in the vineyard,” help my response to be a heartfelt yes! Teach me to lean on you and seek your direction as I go about my day.
- Not Me!: The first son refused his father’s request. When asked to go out and work in the vineyard, he answered, “I will not.” Although his initial answer was probably displeasing to his father, he ended up doing what his father wanted. We can take great comfort in Jesus’ meaning here: God will always give us a second chance. The reality is that we are all sinners. Despite our best intentions, we will sometimes tell God “no.” We do this not only by our actions, but sometimes by our failure to act. His mercy is infinite; he will always give us another chance to turn back to him and to do his will.
- Sure, Dad!: The second son had the answer every parent wants to hear. When his father requested that he go out and work in the vineyard, he gave a quick “Yes, sir” as his reply. However, after thinking about it or maybe just becoming distracted with a more pleasurable activity, he did not follow through. His “yes” was meaningless because it was not backed up by his actions. We can be sure that Jesus was thinking of the times we are quick to pay lip service to living a holy life but do not want to do the hard work of discerning and following God’s will.
- Acts of Faith: When we were little children, we followed our parent’s orders because, on some level, we had faith that they had our best interests at heart. When we rebelled as older children or teenagers, we thought we knew better than our parents. We had lost faith in their “omnipotence.” In relationship to our heavenly Father, obedience is the ultimate act of trust. What gets us to Mass on those Sundays when we are busy or tired? What drives us to choose the right thing when we would rather not act or possibly do the wrong thing? It is faith that our heavenly Father knows what is best. Doing his will is an act of faith; it is trust in his perfect plan and goodness.
Conversing with Christ: Still my heart at this moment. Turn my gaze towards you, my heavenly Father. Fill my soul with the knowledge that you are the perfect Father. Let me come to you like a child, seeking your will. Through the Holy Spirit, strengthen me to do your will today.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend time in prayer today meditating on Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”
For Further Reflection: Watch a short video about St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church.
Cathy Stamper lives in Maryland with her husband, Mike. They have been partners in marriage and business for thirty-one years. Together they have been blessed with five young adult children. She is a lay member of Regnum Christi.