Actions speak louder than words

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

October 1, 2023 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 21:28-32

Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

Like so many others I have spent a good part of my life using words to communicate my thoughts and feelings. Most of my education took place through the words of lectures and books in the many subjects I studied. I made my living mostly through the words I said in the classroom and the books and articles I wrote for publication. These Nazareth Pages are constructed with words that are placed in my laptop and find their way around the world. The story of my professional life, and much of my personal life, is almost totally created out of words.

And words also play an important part of today’s culture. The words of government turn on the words of elected officials. Talk programs and podcasts delve into the major issues of our time. The rise of mass media and computerization is largely due to their ability to spread words and other symbols that can be communicated to virtually to every corner of the world.

But in today’s gospel Jesus boldly asks which is more important, words or deeds (actions).

He asks us to judge who is better: someone who says that they will do what is good but fails to do it, or someone who says they won’t do what is good but later does it. In other words, what really counts in the end? Good words or good actions?

This is not a difficult issue if you know the teachings (and actions) of Jesus. Of course, he both said what is and did the good in its fullest. But what made the strongest impression on others? It was what he did. He showed his love by giving his life for others. He helped those in need and comforted those who suffered. There was no limit to his generosity in serving others.

When I reflect on the Last Supper, what most impresses me was not his words (even though they were some of the most impressive words in all the gospels) but his act of washing the dirty feet of his disciples. His great gesture of service and love.

In one place, the gospel describes Jesus simply as one who went about doing good. There is no mention of him only being a great teacher (which he was) or someone who could influence the crowds by his stirring words (which they were).

We all know the phrase: actions speak louder than words. We need to be reminded of this simple truth. It’s part of the central message of Jesus.    


 David M. Thomas, PhD  

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