RCL Year A Proper 21
Ezekiel 18:1-4 and 25-32, Psalm 25:1-8, Philippians 2:1-13, Saint Matthew 21:23-32

“What do you think? A man had two sons.”[1] Jesus goes on from that transition and introduction to tell a parable about a son who says “No” but does “Yes” and another son who does the opposite—he says “Yes” but does “No.” Which of the two is the one that best describes you?

The parable that Jesus tells clearly prefers the son who says “No” but does “Yes.” Remember the question Jesus asks the chief priests and the elders: “Which of the two did the will of his father?” Clearly and simply, the son who does “Yes” does the will of his father. Everything we think, feel, dream, and imagine boils down to this: doing the will of God.

If you take this principle to heart—that goodness and virtue are to be found in what we do rather than in what we say—life can become quite simple to live. For we are free at every moment in our lives to do a thing that God would have us do. And in doing that thing, whatever it is, we stride into the kingdom of God.

And when we stride into the kingdom of God, whom do we find? We find the tax collectors, the prostitutes, Jesus, his blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Baptist. We find those who did what God would have them do. We do not find the chief priests and the elders, those who satisfy themselves with saying the right thing. We do not find the son who said “Yes” but did “No.”

In this preference for doing, I find a sacramental principle. God seems to be saying: do something simple, and I will meet you there. Uphold the weak, encourage the poor in spirit, clothe the poor, feed the hungry, and God will meet you there. Moments ago, did we not say of the Lord, ”He guides the humble in doing right * and teaches his way to the lowly.”[2]

[1] Saint Matthew 21:28.

[2] Psalm 25:8.