Make known to me Your ways…
On looking at the readings and at the Gospel, one can instantly see a call to obedience, but true obedience doesn’t come without humility – obedience is born out of humility.
In scripture, from cover to cover, obedience is seen as a key virtue that God asks of us, but our pride so often obstructs the flow of this quality that it becomes a stumbling block to a greater vision of what God wants of us. The psalmist in Psalm 25 exudes the humility that God wants of us. He acknowledges the goodness of God, the strength and the power of God, but he remembers His compassion and His mercy; he recognises the blessings of a humble spirit.
He is at that place where he knows that humility would open the door to God being present in his life, that it is through his humility that he would be linked to God, and that he would receive God’s guidance and be open to God’s way of righteousness.
We can so often react to various situations like petulant children do – they can’t have their way so they cry out, “That’s not fair…” and they feel justified because they have worked out their rights in their young, inexperienced minds. So many of us adults, seem to be still stuck in that rut and we too haven’t moved from that place on to a more mature level of thinking that allows us to truly embrace the situation and, with humility, accept, the sometimes unpalatable consequences of our actions.
Jesus, the epitome of humility, “emptied Himself… He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). Today, in this ‘I, me, my’ world, obedience seems to be a thing of the past, a thing for the old folks, an attitude for someone else – not me! I want it my way.
In this short parable, the first son in today’s Gospel, immediately refuses his father’s request to go work in the vineyard, but had a change of heart and went. The next son seemed to obediently acquiesce – but he did not go! What went through the minds of these two sons then? What thoughts were privately evolving in the minds of the religious leaders of the day as Jesus challenged them with this first of three parables? As Jesus uses it as a thought-provoking moment for these religious leaders and for us, was it a time of truth for them? Is it for us today?
Our ‘yea’ can so often turn to a ‘nay’ by our actions – in other words our sincerity towards one another can often be questioned. As Christians, many of us say yes to Jesus – in that space where all can see and hear us, and where we can all be recognised for our obvious religiosity, but the question is, what is really happening in our hearts? With which son do we truly identify?
As we dwell on this Sunday’s scriptural passages we ask ourselves – what is our response to our Father when He asks us to love one another, to serve one another, to be there for one another?
Today our world living seems to be replete with situations in which people want to steal our joy and even lead us away from the truth of who we are as a person, and more so as persons in Christ. The world is set on defining us and leading us to its way of thinking which, in very many instances, goes contrary to basic Biblical principles of love and obedience.
Through His parables, Jesus teaches the way of humility and of obedience. He shows that the apparent outsiders could make their way through those ‘pearly gates’ before us because they humbly repent and accept Jesus’ invitation to follow Him into the vineyard – the future kingdom.
Jesus is the Way; He will always show the Way, and He will always be the Way to God our Father.
As we contemplate this truth, let us echo the prayer of the psalmist as he pleads:
Lord, make known to me Your ways, and teach me Your paths. Guide me by Your fidelity and teach me, for You are God, my Saviour, and for You I wait all the day long.
I implore You, Lord, to remember Your compassion and Your mercy, for they are ages old. Remember no more the sins of my youth but, because of Your goodness, remember me according to Your mercy. Lord, I know that You are good and upright and that You show us sinners the way, therefore I ask You to guide me into Your way of righteousness and teach me Your truth. Amen
Anne Marie Richardson is a wife, mother, grandmother, and a retired educator of the parish of Santa Rosa, Arima.