By Katie Taylor
Matthew’s Gospel (21:28-32) challenges me to think, what is genuine obedience? Can we say no and then later change our minds? And do I believe growth and change are possible in myself and others? As Jesus asks, what is your opinion?
Desire to Say Yes
The temptation to place our worth in others to please the tangible person in front of us can lead to the desire to say yes haphazardly. But are we going to follow through? Have we prayed and invited the Holy Spirit to guide this decision? Do we at our heart know that nothing I do will change my worth or the love God has for me?
I love to say yes, I am a doer who sees so much worth in all the opportunities presented to me. I want to value the other person in front of me, their dreams, ideas, and goals. Taking a breath to ensure that my drive has a vector or purposeful direction took a lot of learning and is often a work in progress.
Our variety of passions can lead us to want to do it all and be all things to all people. We need a clear vision for our life and a purpose. We need to be willing to say the awkward, “Let me pray about that, discuss it with my husband, etc.” and then actually follow through to have those conversations with trusted loved ones who will be impacted by our commitments and, most importantly, with God.
Our yes, should mean yes—this kind of yes results in cheerfully giving even if it is a sacrifice. If we will regret the commitment, do it halfway or not at all, we need to learn to be honest with others and with ourselves.
We can say yes to a lot, but they need to be to the right things: God’s will. Sometimes we have to say no to say yes more fully later.
Change is Possible
Jesus corrects and admonishes those that see the miracles, the incredible change happening in those around them, and fails to accept the invitation to grow, to be changed themselves. He highlights the son, who says no and then later changes his mind and obeys.
Growing up, I believed that you were born with a particular set of gifts and talents that could be improved, but new ones would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. However, with life experience and my conversion comes the humbling reality that I could change my mind, and people could be made new and grow to turn weaknesses into strengths.
The words of truth and our faith teach us that Jesus longs to raise every part of you, even the features that you think are too unworthy, too broken, or inadequate. If he can raise someone from the dead, make someone walk or see, he can change you and your mind. He calls us “be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s image in righteousness and holiness of truths” (Ephesians 4:23-24). We need to be willing to invite him in and see our dignity found in being created by him in his image.
What Makes Change Possible
Today’s second reading tells us to have the same mindset and attitude as Christ (Philippians 2:2, 5). This mindset is one of humility and obedience, “to death, even death on the cross” (Philippians 2:8). This mindset says I have more to learn, and I can be wrong about things. It trains the intellect and the will. It says, above all else, “let your will be done.” It honestly sees itself as a work of an almighty God who chooses to love us, who can change us.
This mindset requires what psychology and leadership experts call a growth mindset. A growth mindset thrives in challenges and does not see failure as confirmation of incapability but as a learning opportunity. It allows for redemptive suffering, to understand that God allows these difficulties to grow us, to purify us as gold is purified in fire.
We need to have this mindset in our spiritual lives. To know that we are not saints yet but that we are working towards it. That grace builds upon nature.
Call to Action
- Spend time in prayer, thinking about one virtue and one concrete skill that you want to develop. From these promptings, we can develop a growth plan to help change our mindset to be more Christ-like.
- Spend time reflecting on decisions you have made, both yeses and nos, and invite God into those choices to see where you need to change your mind, where you need to follow through better, and where the temptation to say yes was not God’s will.
Lord, help me to not only say yes but to follow through, to finish. Please help me desire your obedient and humble mindset to grow and change, knowing it is possible through you.
About the author:
Katie Taylor is passionate about equipping leaders in the New Evangelization through living awesome Catholic lives and providing light and truth. She is an Air Force veteran and has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Counseling. Her husband is a fighter pilot, and they have three amazing kids. They love running retreats and Catholic leadership workshops. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and watch their video series for Catholic Link.