In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a story of two sons. The parable dramatizes the classic difference between lip service and performance. One son said he would obey his father but did not. The second son, who refused to obey his father, later regretted the refusal and did what he was told. Who was the greater man? Who was obedient? The apostles agreed it was the second son. Jesus then applied the story to the pious person who uttered, all the correct religious platitudes but does his own thing.
Sinners, like the tax collectors and prostitutes of the time of Jesus, originally said no to God’s command to live a good life (work in the vineyard). Now that they hear the call to God’s Kingdom, they respond to that call and are more likely to find the kingdom and ultimately obey the Father’s will.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day put on a good show of being holy. No doubt some of them were. But Jesus was not impressed with many of them. He wanted people to be honest with themselves. He wanted people who, if they were sinners, would admit and get themselves right with God.
Talk is not going to impress God. Excuses are not going to impress God. It is the good that we do that pleases God and bring us to eternal happiness. We can make lots of promises to ourselves about what we are going to do tomorrow, but it is what we actually do that really matters. Jesus explains to us that if we are not doing what is right, it is never too late to change our mind.
– Msgr. Powell