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Updated on September 26, 2011

Parable of Two Sons


A Minister was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age.

The group had surrounded a dog. Concerned that the boys were hurting the dog, he went over and asked "What are you doing with that dog?"

One of the boys replied, "This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So we've decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog."

Of course, the reverend was taken aback. "You boys shouldn't be having a contest telling lies!" he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten minute sermon against lying, beginning, "Don't you boys know it's a sin to lie," and ending with, "Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie."

There was dead silence for about a minute. Just as the reverend was beginning to think he'd gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said,

"All right, give him the dog."

Just like this story, the parable we hear this Sunday highlights one big fault from both sons, that is, what they say is totally different from what they do. Jesus teaches his disciples of what to do when they are confronted with people they love and yet, do not act as they say:

First, HOLD ON TO WHAT IS CONSTANT IN LIFE. Although many things change, there are constants in life. Always believe, for example, that there is goodness in every person, even a hardened criminal. Goodness is one constant in life that we can hold on to because is it founded in the truth that God is GOOD and that we are all created from such nature of GOODNESS.

We often say, “first impression lasts.” Well, that may be true, but as Christians, we must couple such belief with confidence that people can change and that regardless of a bad first impression, the person can change at some point for the better. If we look at events in Scripture from the Old down to the New Testaments, we can clearly see a vicious cycle of faithfulness and deceit; of reparation and fall; and of return and separation. But God breaks such vicious cycle by His strong and unending love for man which is clearly expressed in the 2nd reading: “Though in the form of man, did not deem equality with God … but took the form of a slave.” Such love gives man a chance to change and to once again redirect his life to the source of all goodness.

Second, OPPORTUNITY DOES NOT KNOCK TWICE AT ONE’S DOOR. The father gives the two sons the same opportunity. One grabs such opportunity; the other lets it slip by. Even when people do not seem to be true to what they promise, we have to use every possible opportunity to be faithful to ourselves.

Our dealings with people around us are subject to a lot of opportunities. If we make use of such opportunities, we can achieve our goals in life. On the other hand, just like the man in the Gospel, we should provide others with opportunities to better their lives and to help them most especially in their needs. Hear this interesting story about these two very influential persons:

In a little church in a small village in Yugoslavia, an altar boy serving the priest at Sunday Mass accidentally dropped the cruet of wine. The village priest struck the altar boy sharply on the cheek and in a gruff voice shouted "Leave the sanctuary and don't come back!" That boy became Marshall Tito, the antichristian communist president of Yugoslavia in 1953 till his death in 1980. In the cathedral of Peoria, Illinois another altar boy serving the bishop at Sunday Mass also accidentally dropped the cruet of wine. With a warm twinkle in his eyes, the bishop gently whispered, "Someday you will be a priest." Do you know who that boy was? Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

How do you deal with others who have caused problems for you? Jesus has the answer in today’s gospel: take it as a good opportunity to change to become the best of who you are. Most especially, provide good opportunities to others that, they too, may be able to fully exercise their gifts.

Third, WHEN IN DOUBT, SUSPEND JUDGMENT AND GO BACK TO WHAT YOUR HEART SAYS. The heart never lies. What is in our heart will tell us a lot of things about God and ourselves. In fact, it is our heart that drives us to do something. Regardless of whatever others may say, follow what your heart says.

The first lesson of stewardship that we should always bear in mind is that WE ARE CALLED TO BE DISCIPLES of Christ. We must, therefore, first be good stewards of our own vocations – discerning, accepting, and fulfilling the roles and responsibilities to which the Lord has called us. Last week, I talked about going back to our own Christian identity in order that we may be able to discern our own calling. We are called to something good, and we can only exercise such goodness once we are clear about our vocations. Stewardship does not come out of nowhere. It is a fruit of serious discernment and reflection. As we prepare ourselves to be good stewards, let us think more carefully about our vocations and from there follow where our heart could lead us.

This Sunday, we are called to Christian TRUTH – to a truth that has a mind for Christ and a heart that responds to the needs of our brothers and sisters. It is a truth that is dynamic. A truth exercised by the son in the parable who said, “No” but after serious thinking, responded to do it through his action. When we are confronted with such challenges, Christ calls us to respond more positively, to look for what is constant; to take such challenges as opportunities to make the best out of us; and to follow our heart no matter what after we have come to a full and serious discernment. Let us pray that we may fully discern our vocations and so respond more appropriately to such calling.


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    • giopski profile image

      giopski 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      @Dave. "Opportunity does not knock twice at one's door" simply means that no opportunity is the same. They come and go. At some point another opportunity may come of the same nature, but it isn't the same as when it first came as circumstances could now change. That is why we are asked to make the most of good opportunities for they may not come again. As in the Gospel, the two sons had the same opportunity but each one had different ways of taking it. As Christians, we are called not to miss any opportunity especially if such opportunity make us better Christians following the will of the Father. You have a lovely week Dave.

    • giopski profile image

      giopski 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      @joejagodensky. Thanks for the comment. It reminds us that true discipleship must come both in word and action.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      I loved the story but who says opportunity only knocks once. God knocks again and again. Are you listening? Will you answer?

    • joejagodensky profile image

      joejagodensky 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I love the story about the minister and the dog. So true. Good points to remember in following the Lord. Thanks.