Rev Kathy Christianson, Deacon
Matthew 21: 28-32
The gospel of Matthew seems to have two messages. One message refers to the audience that Jesus is addressing. Jesus felt that his cousin, John the Baptist, preached the true word of God. In this parable Jesus was delivering the message that here you had tax collectors and prostitutes who believed and followed the message of love and humility preached by John the Baptist. But then there were religious leaders who considered themselves virtuous and holy men of God but did not follow a life of love. Most were heavily focused on themselves – their status in society and how much power they had and also how they could increase their wealth. Jesus was referring to being a hypocrite – saying that they believe one way but then act the complete opposite of that belief. He was always referring to making a promise and then not acting on that promise.
The second message from Jesus is asking us to be impeccable with our word. Our words can make someone feel great or make someone feel bad. Since we have that power, it is up to us to speak with love and to use words that will:
• communicate goodness and love
• support others
• help make someone feel good about themselves, including ourselves.
It’s important that when we chose to use words that make a promise, that we carry through with that promise or explain to the other person why the promise cannot be fulfilled. Not just not do it, as it was in today’s gospel. The second son said that he would go work in the field and just never did.
Remember the fable about the boy who cried wolf? The shepherd boy was watching a flock of sheep that belonged to the members of a village. He cried out on two separate occasions that a wolf was among the sheep. Each time the villagers came, they found that there was no wolf. The shepherd boy, who thought it was very funny couldn’t stop laughing. The villagers were very angry for being lied to. Then when there was really a wolf among the sheep and the shepherd boy cried out “Wolf. Wolf.”, no one came because no one believed him. That is a fable of lack of integrity – not being impeccable with your word.
Words can also hurt when we use angry words, name calling, speaking ill of others, speaking ill of yourself even, or making a promise that you have no intention of keeping. If we engage in this kind of word exchange, we are not only potentially hurting the person to whom we are speaking but we are also hurting ourselves. We hurt our reputations. Maybe we become a person that other people cannot count on to do what they say they are going to do or to do the right thing. We carry the burden of having inflicted pain on someone else. Maybe we suffer the loss of a friend because of the words we chose.
For us humans, words are our primary source of communication. Words come to represent who we are. Jesus’ message is that when we use the words that we have selected to voice to ourselves or another, speak the words with honesty, truth, commitment and