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Like the son in the parable, we are all called to obedience when it comes to God’s will

      Back in my corporate days, I worked in an office that had that proverbial “Yes Man” as part of our staff.

      Can you have those numbers for us by the end of the day, Bob? Yes, of course I can! Have you made an appointment to meet with Mrs. ClientXYZ? Right on it! Will the financial report be done in time for me to review before the board meeting? You bet! Can I count on you to work overtime next week? Sure thing, boss!

      The only thing we could ever count on was Bob finding a reason not to follow-through . . . with anything! All our boss ever seemed to hear was the guy paying him lip-service. While I’m not sure what exactly took place, Bob only lasted four months. His grandiose dreams of residing in that corner office were gone.

      Bob (not his real name, mind you) made an art out of saying yes, but really meaning, “I’ll say anything to look good in your eyes, but I have no intention on seriously doing it.” Of course, it didn’t take our boss long to catch on to that kind of hypocritical behavior.

      In this weekend’s Gospel (Matt 21:28-32), we have a son who first says “no” to the request of his father when asked to go out and work in the vineyard, but then, thinking better of it, he obeys. The second son does the opposite.

      “Sure, dad! I’ll go work out in the hot blazing sun. Anything you say!” But in his heart, he knows he has no intention on following through with the request. Sounds way too much like work to him, right?

       Obviously, the father in the parable represents God our Father in Heaven. The Father loves all his children equally, but with that love comes a responsibility, born out of our baptism, to go out and do the work of the Kingdom. If we were honest, many of us would admit that, at times, the work of the Kingdom can be tiresome, overwhelming, burden-some. There are so many other things in the world we must attend to. So many things we’d rather be doing. And hey, sometimes we just don’t feel like it.

      However, as Christians we tend to hold an expectation that God will be – will always be – a loving Father. We expect that the Lord Jesus has prepared a place for us in God’s Kingdom. And that “working in the vineyard” stuff, well, it surely doesn’t apply to me.

      That’s all fine and good, but there is that small matter of obedience to God’s will.

      Yes, we are all sinners and far from perfect, but when did we last look for the disobedience in our lives – the hypocrisy Jesus addresses when speaking to the chief priests and elders? When did we last take our place in the Father’s vineyards willingly and joyfully?

      In the second reading (Phil 2:1-11), St. Paul tells us: “. . . humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.”

      Yes, we not perfect but we need to look at intent and measure that sense of obedience in our hearts. Do we say “yes” to God, knowing full well that we’re going to hold on to the same old grudges and hatred? Are we going to call ourselves good Christians, yet refuse to do of God’s work, considering that hour in the pew each week is sufficient?

      Or, are we going to be more like that first son, the one who initially resisted, but then took his father’s words to heart - the son who, in the end, was obedient to the will of the father?

      This week’s Northwest Indiana Catholic carries the text of Bishop Donald J. Hying’s pastoral response to the diocesan synod, a process which started in the late winter of 2016. Take some time to prayerfully read it a section or two at a time and consider how it might impact your faith and relationship with the Father.

      The bishop’s letter is full of the richness of wisdom that came out of the synod process, not from the top down, but rather from the hearts and spirits of our people as guided by the Holy

Spirit. The synod has not been just an important moment in our diocese’s history, it’s been, and still is, a sacred, grace-filled moment.

      One line from the pastoral speaks to my soul, as it should with all Catholics in our diocese: “Everyone cannot do everything, but everyone can do something.”

      So what’s it going to be? Let’s ask ourselves: Will I be the one who pays the Father lip service? Or, will I be the one, despite initial hesitancy, to prayerfully ponder what is being asked and answer “yes” in obedience to God’s call to do the work of his Kingdom here on earth?


     Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic Publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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