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Letter from Fr Kieran McDermott, chair of the Diocesan Synodal Steering Committee: I write on behalf of Archbishop Farrell and the Diocesan Synodal Steering Committee, seeking your help. The Synod on Synodality – Communion, Participation and Mission, opens in Rome on...


An evening of praise and worship has been organised in Christchurch Cathedral, Wood Quay, at 7pm this Saturday, September 30. For more information, please visit

Blessing of Animals Sunday 1st October

Next Sunday, being near the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the blessing of animals will take place in the church ground at 1pm, after the midday Mass. A special Franciscan blessing will be used..

Film in St Anthony’s “The Letter”

As part of the celebration of Creation Time, which continues until the 4th October, the Feast of St.Francis of Assisi, a film called The Letter will be shown in St. Anthony's Church on 4th October at 7.30pm.  The film is linked with Pope Francis's document Laudato Si....

Reflection on Today’s

Gospel Reading

Twenty Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

We appreciate it when people are true to their word, when they keep the promise they make to us. We get upset when people make a promise to us and fail to keep it. We would prefer if they hadn’t made the promise in the first place. We don’t know where we stand when someone says one thing but don’t follow through on what they have said. That is the situation with the second son in the parable that Jesus speaks in today’s gospel reading. He promises his father that he will go into the vineyard to help with the harvesting but he never shows up. We can imagine his father waiting for him, but he waits in vain.

We may also have had the experience of someone saying ‘no’ to some request we make, but then having a change of mind and heart and coming back to us and saying ‘yes’, and not only saying ‘yes’ but acting on their ‘yes’. Our initial disappointment gives way to great appreciation. This is the situation with the first son in the parable in today’s gospel reading. He said ‘no’ to his father’s request to go into the vineyard to help with the harvest, but then had a change of mind and heart and did what his father asked. In the words of the parable, ‘he thought better’ of his initial ‘no’. This son seems to have had the capacity for reflection. He came to see that his initial reaction to his father’s request didn’t leave him at peace. It wasn’t true to what was best in himself. It didn’t do justice to his relationship with his father. He wasn’t ready to say ‘yes’ when he was first asked. He needed time to think about the request, and when he reflected he realized that he wanted to say ‘yes’ to his father’s request. Where he began, a blunt refusal, wasn’t where he ended up, a whole-hearted response, going into the vineyard as requested.

It could be said that the deeds of both sons didn’t match their words. The second son said ‘yes’ but did nothing; the first son said ‘no’ but did what he was asked. However, it is clear from the parable that Jesus wants us to learn from the first son, who ended up doing the right thing, in spite of his initial refusal. It is this son’s capacity to have a change of mind and heart for the better that Jesus is putting before us. Jesus addressed this parable to the chief priests and elders of the people, who were very hostile to Jesus. He is criticizing their refusal to have a change of mind and heart about John the Baptist, especially when they saw how people they dismissed as sinners were responding so generously to John’s preaching. Something wonderful was happening there. Those regarded as breaking God’s law were submitting to John’s baptism and allowing themselves to be embraced by God working through John’s ministry. This should have prompted the religious leaders to rethink their rejection of John the Baptist, but it didn’t. They held firmly to their ‘no’ to John’s ministry and they were in the process of saying ‘no’ to Jesus’ ministry as well. Unlike the first son, they seemed incapable of a change of heart. This was a serious matter, because in saying ‘no’ to John the Baptist, they weren’t just saying ‘no’ to a human being, as a son says ‘no; to his father, they were saying ‘no’ to God. Even more so, in saying ‘no’ to Jesus, they were saying ‘no’ to God, because Jesus was the Son of God.

In various ways, we can all find ourselves saying ‘no’ to God and to God’s Son, our risen Lord, turning away from his call on us, failing to give ourselves over to his purpose for our lives. The Lord stands at the door of our lives and he knocks, but we don’t always hear his knock, and if we do we don’t always respond to it. In different ways, the Lord says to us what the father says to his sons in the parable, ‘go and work in the vineyard today’, calling us to serve him in some way, by serving one another. Yet, often we don’t respond to his call. The parable in today’s gospel reading suggests that it is never too late to have a change of mind and heart when it comes to the Lord. He is prepared to wait until our ‘no’ turns into a ‘yes’ over time.  The first son was late doing what his father wanted, but he wasn’t too late. It is never too late for us either.  Also, the Lord doesn’t wait passively for our ‘no’ to him to become a ‘yes’. He keeps working away in our lives to help bring about this change of heart and mind. He not only calls, but he also empowers. As Saint Paul says in his first letter to the Thessalonians, ‘The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this’. In the language of today’s second reading, the Lord works to create his mind, his heart, in us, and our basic calling is to allow him to get on with his work in our lives, so that we end up saying ‘yes’ to his call.