Trying to find the way in life is never easy. Some people just drift, aimlessly floating on whatever whim or impulse happens. Others live with ambitious aims, work hard to achieve them and sometimes find that they were not really what they wanted. It is not easy to know what to do, where to seek life, where to pursue our goals!
A friend of mine (a priest) was recently asked whether he would “do it all again” if he were back at the seminary door aged eighteen again. He said that he paused—a little embarrassed at the question and finding it hard to respond—would he take on the same responsibilities, cares and sometimes difficulties if he could whisper into the ear of his eighteen year old self? Not an easy question to ask. He did give one of the best answers that I have heard-“I have done, I did it as best I could, with mistakes but with integrity, and I hope to continue to work in this vineyard for time to come.”
That is what Christ says in the Gospel today. Constantly re-evaluating and re-examining can be a fool’s game. Judging the past through the lens of the present offers a misguided critique. Most of us have tried our best. We have acted with integrity and with courage at times. We have made our mistakes and grumbled at the Master—but we are here, somehow faithful to the call of our baptism and the service in the vineyard in some form or other.
Seek the Lord today, in the ways that you can find him today, calling to him while he is still near. That is the Wisdom of this Gospel. Dramatic and exciting time will always fail and pass, but the simple constancy of finding our role in the vineyard and continuing in it with as much courage and hope we can muster—there is the Wisdom of today’s Gospel. Has it all been a mistake? Should we whisper something different in the ear of our youthful ghosts? Or maybe should we just thankfully take the Master’s coin and look forward to tomorrow’s work?
Look again at the words of the Psalm and keep them alive: The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds. He is close to all who call upon him, who call on him from their hearts!” maybe those wasted lives, those wasted days, those forgotten dreams find their own way into God’s presence! Work well in the vineyard and hope!