Today’s gospel describes two types of people Jesus expected to meet in his own life.  There are the Yes-sayers but No-doers and the No-sayers but Yes-doers.   The two sons in the parable perfectly portray the approaches of people to the message of Jesus.  All his life, Jesus was conscious that people were looking at him and observing him, making their own judgments about his work and either approving or rejecting him in their hearts. 

When it came to the message of the Kingdom he has come to bring, some people will pay lip-service, a Yes, but will not yield a single action in favor of the Lord; some on the other hand will say a rebellious No, but in the end will truly follow the lead of the Lord. We all know the danger of words.  We use words creatively to express what is sincerely found also in our hearts.  At the same time, we use words to deceive others or to hide what is really happening within.

Such is what happens when we make promises we don’t intend to keep.  There are people who are experts in this field because they know how to get out of the mess of their broken promises.  People fall for promises because of the charming personality or the convincing stature of the one making it.  If all politicians’ promises came true, there would be no poverty  in the world today.

We harm others with our words also when we lie.  We hide what is true in order to get out of difficulty or to lessen the impact of an evil thing.  The problem with lies is that, once you’ve done one, you need another one as cover-up, until it becomes a cycle imprisoning you into more lies.  A liar finds it difficult to be free.  His heart and mind are always fabricating a false world of deception and fantasy.

In our relations with God and with one another, we find ourselves uttering a first word – is it an insincere promise or a subtle lie?  Do we really want to receive the Lord and follow him in all his demands?  Do we really care for people that we only tell them what is true and uplifting?  Or do we find ourselves caught up in the struggle to free our hearts from untruth and insincerity? 

Jesus knew that words alone are not enough to determine a person’s positive response to his message and challenges. All around him were people who either made broken promises or lied about following him. In the end, it was action – positive action – to follow the Lord that matters most.  Action or works, without fanfare or great fuss, simply showed the direction of true response to the Lord.  Many people, those on the fringes, the poor and the sinners initially said No to the Lord but in the end decided to change their lives and surrender their hearts to God.

The benefit of action is that it can work miracles even for desperate ones, and at the ultimate time.  I have witnessed some people who silently returned to the Lord towards the end of their lives, after a lifetime of rejecting God’s invitation.  It did not take many words, but only a sincere act of repentance.  This opportunity is given to us today.  Will you make another promise?  Or will you act on it?