In today’s Gospel, we read the parable of the two sons. Jesus uses this short story to compare Jewish leaders, tax collectors and prostitutes in hopes of changing people’s views and inspiring them to live righteously.
In the parable, there is a father and two sons. The father instructs the first son to work in the vineyard, but the son refuses. Then he changes his mind and works. Given the same instruction, the second son says he will work but does not follow through. Jesus affirms that although the first son initially refused, he ultimately did the will of his father.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves (Phil 2:3)
What do you do to live out your faith?
What can you do to improve your community?
Are you changing your way of thinking?
Jesus emphasizes the importance of transformation. The first son is likened to tax collectors and prostitutes, who represent sinful behaviors. During Jesus’ ministry, these groups received Jesus’ message and were transformed, changing their minds and lives. Jesus confirms that their conversion has led them to the kingdom of God. The chief priests and elders, on the other hand, are compared to the second son, who appears to live righteously but does not. These groups have refused guidance from the prophet John the Baptist and have failed to change their way of thinking and living.
This parable demonstrates that actions reveal character and intention more than words do, a fitting reflection for the recent feast of St. Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent de Paul dedicated his life to the service of others, especially the poor and disenfranchised. His ministry was founded on the Gospel message of honoring human dignity and caring for those most in need. St. Vincent founded the Congregation of the Mission and co-founded the Daughters of Charity with St. Louise de Marillac so that more people could act on the Gospel’s call to service. St. Vincent’s legacy continues today in global Vincentian parishes, schools and organizations, such as the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul founded by Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, a lay Vincentian. These communities continue to respond to the Vincentian question: What must be done?
Today’s Gospel is a reminder of the importance of actions. It reveals that transformation and conversion are possible when people openly receive the Gospel and act on its message. St. Vincent de Paul is an excellent example of the Gospel message in action.