“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Once after reading an auto repair shop’s mission statement a thousand times while waiting in line, I told the manager that, given their performance, the statement could have been reduced to one word: “whatever.” Writing a mission statement is easy; there are even “mission statement templates.” Doing the mission is the challenge.
Similarly, as individuals we can’t be content with lives marked only by our good intentions. When Jesus told his audience that “Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you,” it was a wake-up call. Contentment with intention without action keeps us lounging comfortably on the couches of our lives, keeps us from giving ourselves fully to God’s exciting project.
James Brown sang, “Get up offa that thing, and dance ’til you feel better.” Let’s do just that. Let’s leave our metaphorical couches and get out on the dance floor with Jesus.
—Fr. Martin Connell, S.J. is a professor of education and Rector of the Jesuit community at John Carroll University, University Heights OH.
Giver of life, Creator of all that is lovely,
Teach me to sing the words of your song;
I want to feel the music of living
And not fear the sad songs,
But from them make new songs
Composed of both laughter and tears.
Teach me to dance to the sounds of your
world and your people,
I want to move in rhythm with your plan;
Help me to try to follow your leading,
To risk even falling,
To rise and keep trying
Because you are leading the dance.
— Dancer’s Prayer, Anonymous
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