The words that begin today’s first reading from Zephaniah 3 scare me. As a 21st century American, I can hear the prophet shouting these words at us. “Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted, to the tyrannical city! She hears no voice, accepts no correction; in the Lord she has not trusted, to her God she has not drawn near.” It seems to me that our society draws ever closer to those words. Ouch! In the Gospel reading from Matthew 21, we hear Jesus asking a question about two sons.
The first son, when told to go out and work in the vineyard, says no, but then goes and works anyway. The second son says, “Yes, sir,” but then does not go. Jesus says, “Which of the two did his father’s will?” Of course, it was the first one. Unfortunately, I see myself far too often in the person of the second son. Always saying, “Yes, Lord! Here I am! I want to do your will. Ask and I will do it, Lord!” But then when the ask is for something that I find inconvenient or distasteful or mundane…well, forget about it, Lord. Can’t you come up with something better? More exciting?
Isn’t it interesting that we see duplicity in both of the sons? Neither of them did what they said they were going to do. But the first son changed his mind and did the father’s will. We don’t know about the second son, but I suspect that he never intended to go out and work in the first place. Jesus then tells the big shots that tax collectors and prostitutes would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before them. Why? They did not change their minds. Hmm…changing your mind about doing the Father’s will. It worked for the first son. It will work for us, too.