Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 8: Year 2
“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21: 28 – 32)
Our Lord Jesus points out that those who made the wrong decision initially, but then turned their lives around and did the will of God were forgiven and accepted; while those who gave the pleasing lip response initially, did not change for the better. It seems, over time, we tend to improve. I hope this is true for most of us anyway.
I must confess that I think that I am a much better person now than I was even 10 or 20 years ago. How do I know this? I evaluate this by how I now see and listen to people; I evaluate it by the friends I cherish. And finally, I evaluate it by the fewer regrets I have for things done, and left undone.
The son who said no but did the will of the Father was, I believe, happier with himself in the end. The son who said yes, but did not do the Father’s will, lived a double life of shame, shame for not pleasing the Father, and shame for lying about it in the first place. The first son did not follow through with his emotional resentment of not wanting to do the work, but after deeper thought, did the work anyway. The second son told the Father what he thought the father wanted to hear, either knowing he had no intention of doing the work; or, deciding later that he would not keep his word.
The words we produce with our mouths are important, especially if they truly represent what we are thinking and believing. But the words we produce with our actions are the most important because they validate what is really in our heart. Jesus has cornered the chief priests and elders in a situation wherein they would not say what they truly thought about John the Baptist. Rather, they conspired to say words pleasing to each other. And unlike the tax-collectors and the prostitutes, the chief priests and elders would not change their ways. How about us? Do we always say what we really mean? And “when” we err, will we repent and change?
The Russian military continues to murder Ukrainian civilians. Please God, come to the aid of Ukraine. I don’t believe what is happening is you will for us. Help us Lord.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John