Sept. 28, 2014 - 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Sometimes we are just like those boys in the parable. We say one thing but then do something else.
Like the husband who renews his wedding vows while having an affair. He is like the second son. He has no intention of keeping the promise he is making.
Or the mother who lectures her children about the dangers of drugs but secretly drinks herself to sleep every night.
Or the boss who tells everyone they have to stay late but then leaves promptly at 5 o’clock.
Or the political leader who says she’s interested in reducing the national debt but then proceeds to increase wasteful spending.
The second son in Jesus’ parable is a hypocrite. He says one thing in public then does something completely different in private.
He is dishonest. He lies to his father’s face. He says what he thinks his father wants to hear, but has no intention of keeping his word. He goes off and does whatever he wants.
He is a slick talker who has no integrity. He says all the right things but never follows through.
If he changes it is not for the better. He goes from bad to worse.
Now the first son is no angel. He is rebellious and disobedient. He too is guilty of sin.
But after thinking about it, he changes his mind. He returns to fulfill his responsibility. He changes from bad to good.
At the end of the parable Jesus asks, “Who did the will of the father?”
The answer is obvious: the first son because he eventually did what was asked of him.
Yes, there was a contradiction between his words and his actions. But at the end of the day, his actions speak louder than his words. He eventually comes around and does the right thing.
Jesus sets before us these two sons and two choices. We can choose virtue, choosing to do the right thing or we can choose to continue living a life of wickedness.
In the first reading we are told that those who choose wickedness will die. Sin leads to death.
And we are also told that those who choose virtue will surely live.
Those who choose virtue are self-giving. They learn to do what St. Paul asks of us in the second reading.
They humbly regard others as more important than themselves. They are generous and kind and loving.
We are called, then, to move beyond saying one thing and doing another, to living our lives with more honesty and integrity.
We are called to do what the Lord God asks of us, to be more generous in giving of ourselves to serve our brothers and sisters, to serve this faith community, to serve the larger community.
We are called to let our actions speak louder than our words.
We are called to be like the first son, to turn from our sinful ways to do what is right and just and good.