Today’s readings have much to do with that which comes from our lips. In the first reading from Zephaniah 3, the Lord says, “For then will I change and purify the lips of the peoples…They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; Nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue.” And in the Gospel reading from Matthew 21, Jesus tells a story about two sons whose words don’t match up with their actions.
A father asks two sons to go and work in the field. The first says no, then changes his mind and goes. The second says, “Yes, sir,” but then does not go. Jesus asks, “Which of the two did his father’s will?” Of course the answer is the first, even though he initially said he would not go. The lesson in the story is that the first son repented, he changed his mind. But I would like to concentrate on the second son.
Obviously, the second son lied. He probably said what his father wanted to hear, but had no intention of doing the father’s will. It reminds me of how easily we can fall into that same trap. We want people to like us, to approve of us, so we tell them what they want to hear. But then our actions don’t match our words. We simply pay lip service. In essence, we lie. And how easily those lies roll from our lips. Do we do this with God also? It’s funny to think that we actually think that we can get over on God. And yet we still try. Let’s resolve today to stop paying lip service. To God, and to everyone else.
Father, forgive us for those times when we simply pay lip service; when we say things that we think people want to hear without any intention of following through. Forgive us, and help us to stop lying so easily. Amen.