Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 25/9/2011 - Gospel: Mt 21, 28-32
The word examination has different applications. When applied to a student or a person who is going through a selection process, examination is a test for grading or for selecting. Examination is not a test when there is no study or competition involved. Examination could be to observe or to check up on how things are. In medical terms, examination is detecting or searching for signs and symptoms that would potentially threaten our physical well being. In the commercial world, the examination reflects through the balance sheet. If that was not balance, there would be an extended search to reconcile these figures.

Another application of the word examination could be to look back and see where we are right now. In this context, examination is a good way to navigate our life to where we would like to be. It helps us to re-orient our lives for growth.

In prayers, examination of conscience is the method that helps us to see the movements of our spiritual journey. Whether our faith journey is moving towards God or moving away from God would be detected. Without examination we would travel a wrong path without realizing it and would think we were on the right one. The time frame to examine oneself spiritually can vary from person to person. It can be done at the end of each day or at the end of a week. To have a better picture of their spiritual journey, a person needs to do this monthly or every three months or yearly. The purpose of the examinations is to check the movements of the soul and see how it is with our loving God and embracing their neighbours. In doing that, a person may see a pattern of their spiritual journey occurring and can make necessary corrections, changes or improvements.

The self examinations of the man's two sons came to different results. When their father asked them to work in his vineyard they were quickly responded to him. One answered 'yes' to the request; the other replied 'no'. Both of them later regretted their responses. The son answered 'yes' to do the will of his father but later he did not do; while the son who replied 'no' to his father's request thought about it later on, and went to do it. The Bible mentions nothing about the reflection of the son who replied yes but instead makes the point about the one who replied 'no' but 'afterwards thought better of it and did what was asked.

There are many situations when we need to rely on our conscience for guidance but it is only reliable when conscience is being trained or informed. The son who at first replied 'yes' was able to lie to his father and to himself because his conscience was not trained. Thinking about it afterwards is a very clear form of examination of conscience. The son who did the will of the father came to his senses and reconciled with his father by doing what was asked of him.

What made the sons do the will of their father was not simply the saying but the acting- doing what had been asked. It is not lip service that makes a person good but the action, doing the will of the father. A person with an untrained conscience only pays lip service while a person with a trained conscience acts it out in good faith. Conscience votes are valid in the eye of God when they reflect God's love for mankind; otherwise, it is merely human.