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Doing, Not Dreaming

Which of the two did the Father's Will?
Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25:4-9; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32

Sermon Week Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 21:31

Back in the late '80s, there was a survey conducted by a major advertising agency entitled "Fears and Fantasies of the American Consumer." Among the findings, they reported that seventy-five percent of Americans have daydreamed about saving someone else's life, and fully one-third of the population has daydreamed about finding a cure for cancer. But when it came to the question, "What is the greatest pleasure in life," the answer was "Watching television." Television topped the list. "It seems we would love to be good so long as it doesn't inconvenience us ... It's one thing to dream about being good, and quite another to do good." -1

A right relationship with God grows and develops, not merely by what we say or teach or promise. It's what we do that matters most. And in today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus invites some of the religious authorities of His time to reflect on the question of doing God's Will. "What is your opinion?" He asks them:

A man had two sons. He says to one of them, "Go and work in the vineyard today." The son answers, "I will not go." But later, he changes his mind about doing his father's will, and he does go to work in the vineyard.

Then the father asks the same thing of the second son. He answers, "Certainly!" But he does not go into the vineyard.

Jesus then asks, "Which of the two did the father's will?" And they answer correctly, of course, "The first."

Jesus doesn't put on this little quiz to see how smart his listeners are. Instead, He is making a crucial point about their relationship with God. Through His little "Parable of the Two Sons," He is telling them that in the matter of obedience to God's Will, it is better by far to move from bad intentions to positive action than to remain locked into good intentions and no action: a lesson in repentance.

In a "Peanuts" cartoon strip, Charlie Brown sits at a desk in his classroom, reading from a paper. "It's about a new Course," he says to [...]

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