October Faith Moment – by Father Sullivan

Many of you may remember the game show on television some years ago called “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” The contestants were asked different questions and won a certain amount of money for each correct answer. But a wrong answer meant immediate elimination. There was a line that the host used after a contestant gave an answer. It was: “Is that your final answer”? That show comes to my mind when I read the parable Jesus told in Matthew’s Gospel 21, verses 28-32, when he tells of a man who had two sons. He asks each one to work in his vineyard. The first one refuses, but he changes his mind later and goes to work. The second one says he will go to work in the vineyard but then does not go to work at all. Jesus asks his listeners–which one was more obedient. The answer is hardly a puzzle. They answered that the first son was respectful, and Jesus approved their answer. But then Jesus spells it out for the Pharisees and tells them that they are the ones that have not changed their ways whereas the tax collectors ( a notoriously dishonest profession at the time) and the prostitutes have tried to change their lives around. The tax collectors and prostitutes are like the first son who realized that it was not too late to change and do what the father wished. The Pharisees had all the external show and appearances of doing the right thing, but deep down, they did not. The Pharisees were the spiritual leaders of the people and burdened them with many laws such as the laws of ritual purity (washing of hands before eating), dietary laws (which foods they were allowed) and the Sabbath laws (limiting them to walking just 70 paces on the Sabbath.) And they placed more importance on these than on the 10 Commandments! They had no care or compassion for the tax collectors and prostitutes whom they despised. They had no desire to change their ways even after listening to John the Baptist and Jesus.
The tax collectors and prostitutes, on the other hand, although they had disobeyed God’s law and through their professions and lifestyles may have debased themselves badly, nevertheless have shown sorrow and repentance at the preaching of Jesus. They appreciate God’s goodness and mercy. As I reflect on this story of Jesus and the question of the television game show, I asked myself if the life I was leading right now is indeed my final answer. Is there any area where I have said NO to the Lord where I would like to change, like the tax collectors, and say yes instead? And it is a question that each of us can ask ourselves. It is never too late to make some changes. Is my life right now my final answer to the Lord?

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