26th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023
This week, my mother suffered a stroke and had to be airlifted to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. Thankfully, by God's grace and the skill of her medical team, she's on the road to recovery. She is now at the hospital in Carthage where she is doing rehab for the next week or two.
But, as I drove to Syracuse to be by her side, my mind wandered back to my childhood. I recalled all those times she'd ask me to do simple chores like taking out the garbage or cleaning my room. My all-too-frequent response was, "I'll get to it in a minute, Mom." More often than not, I'd forget, only to feel a pang of guilt seeing her complete the task herself.
Today's Gospel from Matthew 21:28-32 captures this very human tendency to say one thing and do another. Jesus tells the story of two sons asked by their father to work in the vineyard. The first son initially refuses but later follows through. The second son readily agrees but doesn't act on his promise.
In Jesus' time, this parable was a call to the religious leaders and the people of Israel to understand that saying 'yes' to God isn't enough; it's our actions that bear witness to our commitment.
Aren't we all a mix of these two sons? Sometimes we hesitate but ultimately act. At other times, our words promise, but our deeds don't deliver.
And how often do we say to God, "I'll get to it in a minute" by delaying prayer, neglecting a charitable act, or shying away from a deeper involvement in our community and our Church?
The “good news” is, it's never too late to change that 'maybe later' into a resounding 'Yes, Lord, I will do it now!'
This week on October 4th we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Before his conversion, Francis was a young man caught up with wealth and dreams of knighthood.
But after a series of setbacks, including illness and imprisonment, he found himself in a crumbling church, praying before the San Damiano Cross. There, he heard Christ's voice: "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin."
He didn't respond with, 'I'll get to it in a minute.' Instead, he acted immediately. He began repairing the chapel and eventually realized that God's command was not just about fixing a building but about revitalizing the faith community.
Francis went on to embody a profound love for creation and a commitment to the poor and marginalized.
St. James reminds us, "Faith without works is dead." Our actions reveal the true state of our hearts. Thankfully, God's mercy is endless, always ready to welcome us back into the vineyard, no matter how many times we've said, "I'll do it later."
What has God been asking you to do that you've put off? And what opportunities to grow closer to Him have you missed by saying, "I'll get to it in a minute"?
Like a patient mother, God waits for us to turn our words into action. And the incredible news is, it's never too late to change that 'maybe later' into a resounding 'Yes, Lord, I will do it now!'