A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 21:28-32
28 But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work today in my vineyard.
29 And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went.
30 And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering, said: I go, Sir; and he went not.
31 Which of the two did the father’s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.
Reflection: Actions speak louder than words.
Jesus was speaking to the Israelites especially to the religious authorities. They were the first to receive the word of God through the prophets. They claimed to believe in the one and only God but their faith was mostly expressed in their lips yet their action did not align with what their words. They were just like the second son in the gospel reading above.
On the other hand, the so-called sinners, the prostitutes and the tax collectors, who became followers of John the Baptists and Jesus Christ, listened and repented and therefore, they have the passport to enter the Kingdom of God. They were the first son who initially said no but eventually obeyed his father.
In Matthew 15:8, Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 saying “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Also in Matthew 7:21-23, He specifically warns that “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.” It is therefore imperative that we show our faith in God by having a heart full of compassion that eventually comes out in our actions and behavior.
Self-righteousness is a big hindrance to the door of eternal life. We often look down on other people with the thought that we are holier than them. In this season of advent, let us focus on our own unworthiness and thank God for sending His only Son to redeem us. More importantly, let our words be translated into action. Better yet, let our action of loving others speak for itself.