Say what you mean and mean what you say. That seems to be an adage that has gone out of favor these days. It’s easy to agree with what is being asked if your opinion is requested, especially if disagreement would meet with disapproval or argument. But what happens if that conversation is followed by expectation of performance? I’m speaking about situations like that of the gospel reading today. (MT 21:28-32)
The father had two sons. He told the first one to go and work in his vineyard. The son refused but later went as he had been asked. When the father gave the same directive to his second son, this one agreed to go but did not fulfill that promise to his father. Jesus uses this parable to illustrate belief/non-belief in “the way of righteousness.” Having read the preceding text (PHIL 2:6-11) from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I was drawn also to the qualities of honesty and humility in speech and performance found there and as they relate to the gospel.
If I am asked to do something, the hope is that I will be honest in my reply and the fulfillment or denial of the request. Sometimes it takes humility – emptying ourselves of our own will – to do what is asked of us as well as to be honest about our intention to do or not do it. Even more frequent perhaps is the case in which we are simply asked our opinion on something controversial. If you know you disagree with the majority, are you willing to state an honest opinion? When might that be difficult for you? Why?