The Gospel according to Matthew (21:28-32)
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he 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?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
Today’s Gospel is all about living out our faith, not just keeping it inside, or talking about it. We are called to live the faith by our lives. In today’s Gospel, the chief priests and elders are clearly being equated with the second son in Jesus’ parable. They are the ones who seemingly say “yes” to the Father’s will, but they do not live it out. They are like those who appear religious or holy on the outside, but are focused only on the rules and how they appear before others. Inside, they are selfish and are seeking only their own good.
As followers of Jesus, we begin like the first son, who initially resisted what his father asked. We are like that, as we also tend to hold back, because we give up our own will to the one of the Father. Giving up control is always difficult. If we put ourselves totally at God’s disposal, God will work through us. God longs to work through us. That’s how we bring the Kingdom of God here right now – by doing our best to cooperate with God and to love like He does. We will never be able to truly love totally like God does, but that really doesn’t matter! What does matter is that we take our faith beyond mere following of this rule or that rule – we bring it into our hearts and allow it to guide all that we do. Then, we can love others beyond anything we could ever do on our own. We can do a kind act for someone else, just because it’s what God would have us do. That’s how we prepare the way for the Lord this Advent, and it’s how we live our lives in that same spirit beyond the holidays throughout all of our lives.
Say “yes” to the Father’s will and then go and do it, and change the world for the better, one small kind act at a time.
Action for the Day: Think for today of how you (yes, YOU) can do something kind for someone else, for no other reason than that they are beloved of God as you are! Then, go and do that kind act! Bonus points if they do not know it was you that did it!