There are four possible outcomes in the story of a dad asking his sons to work in the vineyard. Two of them, the two that sit in the gray areas of life, are mentioned by Jesus in Sunday's Gospel.
1) Son says "yes" but doesn't work.
2) Son says "no" but does work.
3) Son says "yes" and does work.
4) Son says "no" and doesn't work.
Ideally, as we discussed yesterday, the son says "yes" and then goes and does the work, and I think I'm leaning towards this as THE only scenario in which the will of the Father is actually fulfilled. But, it seems clear from the interaction between Jesus and the elders and priests that one can, at the very least, partially fulfill the will of the father by going out into the vineyard.
Actions speak louder than words.
Saying yes and doing no sucks. It is a lie.
Saying no and doing yes is pretty crummy, but at least you DID something.
It is the work of the vineyard (a topic of conversation last week, this week, AND next week) that is important. In Jesus' setting, Israel was the vineyard. God asked the priests to tend his vineyard, to help the people grow in faith, to live the will of the Father. The priests, in taking on the mantle of their office, said "yes," but failed miserably at the task at hand. The prostitutes, tax collectors, and Joe the Plumbers or Israel, the vineyard, were left to figure it out on their own. Weeds were growing unabated, irrigation ditches were clogged with debris, grapes were going unharvested. And so the Father went to his only Son and said, "go to work."
Jesus said yes, went to work, and died because of it.
Jesus fulfilled the will of his Father.
Jesus made the vineyard ready for harvest.
As much as I want this story to be a moral tale that we should "get to work," I'm realizing this morning that the work has already been done. In many ways, I'm just a grape. My job is to soak up the sun, the drink in the water, to receive the gifts of grace from the Father, and to await the harvest.