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‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to working in God’s vineyard

This weekend’s gospel lays down another challenge to the religious leaders in the parable about two sons who are asked by their father to work in his vineyard. The first says no but later changes his mind and goes. The second agrees to do so but in the end he does not.

“Which of the two did his father’s will?” Jesus asks. They all agree that it was the one who at first would not go but later did so. But in these days of change and movement towards partnership it is the second reading from St Paul that maybe has the message most relevant t Paul says this in the context of a plea for greater unity in the Christian community at Philippi. In urging the Christians to serve each other’s needs with the deepest respect, he asks them to have the mind of Jesus himself, to think like he does. And he illustrates this by quoting what seems to have been an early Christian hymn. It speaks of the awesome dignity of Jesus as the Son of God, something Jesus did not talk about in his life among us. On the contrary he “emptied” himself and became just like us. He went further and took on the status of a slave and ultimately accepted human death, and the most shameful of all possible deaths, death as a convicted criminal on a cross. If we were to be filled with that same spirit that Jesus had we would have nothing to fear from the future and the changes it will bring; and as a result our partnership would be a wonderful place of harmony and unity, of love and caring, of compassion and mutual support, of looking after each other’s needs. All we have to do is say yes to the gospel challenge and go to work in God’s vineyard.

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