A Message from Father William

Some of the most important words in the Gospel this Sunday are easy to overlook: “afterwards,” indicating an afterthought, and “changed his mind,” indicating also a change of heart (Matthew 21:28-32). In the Bible, the term “changed his mind” is from the original Greek word, metanoia, a word that occurs only one other time in the Gospel of Saint Matthew: in the description of Judas’ regret at betraying Jesus (Matthew 27:3). At the heart of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel today is His call for us to change our minds, for our conversion, to conform to God’s way of thinking. As Christian disciples, this means that we seek to do the will of God the Father, something that we decide to do, to believe in Him – which leads us to embrace His grace, to repent, to turn away from sin, selfishness and pride, and to be humble followers and proclaimers of Jesus Christ.

What is God the Father’s will? For starters, He spells out His will in the Ten Commandments. These are meant to help us, not to be a burden, and are summed up in the Two Great Commandments: to love God with all our being and to love our neighbors as ourselves (we can remember these Commandments with the word “joy,” as in Jesus, Others, Yourself ).

Why is the Father’s will so important? First, because it brings us into communion with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and second, because Jesus, God the Son, makes it important – from the first moment of His teaching, Jesus emphasizes the primacy of doing the Father’s will (Matthew 6:10); He tells us that fulfilling God the Father’s will is a prerequisite for entrance into Heaven (Matthew 7:21); our devotion to the will of the Father makes us brothers and sisters of Jesus (Matthew 12:50) – and where Jesus is, so is the Father, with the Holy Spirit, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity; God the Father’s will pervades every instant of life and His will is for even the littlest ones of the Kingdom (Matthew 18:14); His will carries us through the darkest, most difficult moments in our life – as it did for Jesus (Matthew 26:42) – enabling us to accomplish the seemingly impossible. It is essential for Christian disciples to maintain an unwavering zeal about the Father’s will at every moment, for doing His will leads us to true and everlasting joy.

Doing God’s will means that we go out to work in the Lord’s vineyard (Matthew 9:37; 10:10; 20:1,2,8), mindful that God Himself goes out again and again in search of those willing to do His work, as we heard last Sunday (Matthew 20:1-16). In His infinite mercy and love for us, God calls us to do His will as He opens our hearts and minds to His grace and guidance, especially through our prayer and His Church, Word and Sacraments. As the first son in the Gospel today changes his mind in favor of his father’s will, so we, Christian disciples, are to have a metanoia, to hunger and thirst for God’s will (Matthew 5:6), willing to be persecuted for His sake (Matthew 5:10), being sincere in seeking the Father’s kingship before all else (Matthew 6:33).

By God’s grace, then, may we always decide to seek and do the will of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in our love of God and love of neighbor, proclaiming His Kingdom in our words and deeds, following the Way of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Kingdom of Heaven.

With peace and prayers in Christ,
Fr. William Vernon