Which of the two did the father’s will? (Matthew 21:31)
This weekend we are back in the vineyard - though this time we are not with the workers, but with the owner’s family. One lad agrees to work but doesn't, while the other refused to work, yet does.
The basic message, so familiar from the life of any family, is simple and clear: when words and deeds do not match, it is the deeds which matter.
So often we find it so hard to say what is truly on our hearts. We find it hard to say sorry, yet we will undertake acts to heal rifts with others. We find it hard to admit that we are in the wrong, yet we will quietly correct ourselves. Like the typical teenagers in the parable we claim that we know best, yet follow the advice we are given anyway.
Words are important, deeds more so. We might win an argument, yet convince no one. The most persuasive argument will always be our example. We can tell our children to be honest, but if they see us being dishonest, then they will learn the example, not the words. We can gather together each week and profess our faith, but if that does not make a difference to our lives, who will ever think it is something worth sharing.
By their fruits shall you know them, says Jesus. St Francis of Assisi said to his followers 'Preach the Gospel - use words if necessary'. Deeds speak louder than words.