In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus seems to suggest that there are two kinds of people when it comes to faith: those who promise to be faithful but aren’t, and those that refuse to be faithful but then return. Which one are you? The answer isn’t especially easy.“A man had two sons,” Jesus says. “He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' He said in reply, 'I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father's will?"Jesus uses this parable to point out the stubbornness of the religious leaders of the day. “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you,” he continues. “When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.”The religious leaders claim to be following God, yet they are ignoring God’s message. The “sinners” who have resisted God are now responding to John and Jesus’ message. Which is doing God’s will?Our challenge is to open enough to embrace the presence of God in any form it takes The good news is that it’s never too late.So how do we know if we are like the first son or the second son? I imagine most of us feel that we are trying our best to follow God. Are we deluding ourselves? Are we sitting on the sidelines of our faith while God’s presence is elsewhere? How would we know?In today’s second reading, Paul points out that Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” Rather, he “humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”It occurs to me that humility may be the way to gauge whether we are following God. If Jesus did not insist on equality with God, who are we to claim we have arrived at some point of spiritual completion?In other words, we’re like the second son and the religious leaders if we think we know everything. We are like the first son if we recognize that we have failed to do our father’s will, and will likely fail again, but we keep coming back.The opposite of humility — spiritual pride — is insidious. If you think you know everything, then no one can teach you anything, not even God. This means we will miss the presence of God if it does not meet our standards of piety. If the Gospels are any indication, God will regularly explode our expectations of how he will serve us. Our challenge is to open enough to embrace the presence of God in any form it takes. The good news is that it’s never too late. The father is generous and eager to welcome us back. Why? Because God loves us, and wants us to experience that love, and the joy of connecting to God’s will.Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected].