“I may be wrong in regard to any or all of them; but holding it a sound maxim, that it is better to be only sometimes right, than at all times wrong, so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to renounce them.” ― Abraham Lincoln: 1809 – 1865 16th President of the United States of America)
Gospel Text: (MT 21:28-32)
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.”
“No!” That word can sound like a slamming door. Think about the last time you asked someone to help you. If they immediately said no, that would probably be the last time you’d ask them for anything. It would definitely put a strain on your relationship!
In the Gospel reading today, the first son’s “no” put him on his father’s bad side. Working in the vineyard was certainly within what was expected of him in the family. But his “no” wasn’t the end of the story. He may have impulsively refused his father’s request, but when he changed his mind, he was able to get back in line with what his father expected. It was as if he had never even refused. Even better, his relationship with his father was restored! If you think about it, it’s not too different from the parable of the prodigal son in Luke’s Gospel: when the son returned, the father ran out to take him back.
The same is true for us. “No” doesn’t have to be our final answer!
Just because you have said no to God, he has not turned his back on you. You can always change your mind, repent, and say yes! There is always the chance for a new beginning. Just because you see sin in your life—that impulsive first “no” or that long-standing, obstinate “never”—you are not locked into it. Like the first son, like the prodigal son, you can always turn back to your Father. All vestiges of your “no” can be wiped away.
Have you been to Confession yet this Advent? If not, go! Allow God to say to you, “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11). It’s never too late to start over again!