First reading Zephaniah 3:1-2,9-13

All peoples shall invoke the Lord’s name and serve him

Trouble is coming to the rebellious, the defiled,
the tyrannical city!
She would never listen to the call,
would never learn the lesson;
she has never trusted in the Lord,
never drawn near to her God.
Yes, I will then give the peoples lips that are clean,
so that all may invoke the name of the Lord
and serve him under the same yoke.
From beyond the banks of the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants
will bring me offerings.
When that day comes
you need feel no shame for all the misdeeds
you have committed against me,
for I will remove your proud boasters
from your midst;
and you will cease to strut
on my holy mountain.
In your midst I will leave
a humble and lowly people,
and those who are left in Israel will seek refuge in the name of the Lord.
They will do no wrong,
will tell no lies;
and the perjured tongue will no longer
be found in their mouths.
But they will be able to graze and rest
with no one to disturb them.

Responsorial Psalm 33(34):2-3,6-7,16,18-19,23

This poor man called; the Lord heard him.
I will bless the Lord at all times,
  his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
  The humble shall hear and be glad.
This poor man called; the Lord heard him.
Look towards him and be radiant;
  let your faces not be abashed.
This poor man called, the Lord heard him
  and rescued him from all his distress.
This poor man called; the Lord heard him.
The Lord turns his face against the wicked
  to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
They call and the Lord hears
  and rescues them in all their distress.
This poor man called; the Lord heard him.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
  those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
  Those who hide in him shall not be condemned.
This poor man called; the Lord heard him.

Gospel Matthew 21:28-32

Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’

Words without actions have no meaning

Words and intentions are meaningless without actions. In today’s parable, Jesus told of a man who had two sons. He asked his elder son to  go and work in his vineyard. The son said, “no” to him, but he reconsidered his initial decision and decided to go instead. The second son  wanted to help his father and said “yes” to his father’s request, but did not go. The elder son’s action was a “yes” to the father because his action spoke louder than his initial intention and words.
Our good intentions are not good enough. Like the younger son, we can  have intentions to help, give, share, forgive, reach out, etc., but we do not follow the intention with action. We can easily make promises, but we struggle to give time and effort to do what we say. In this time of Advent, God our Father comes and invites us to work in his vineyard, i.e. to participate in His work of love and justice. May we say “yes” to  Him by our words and our actions each day.
Question for reflection:
Do my words match my actions?