Jesus went on to say, “What do you think of this? A man had two sons. He went to the ?rst and said to him, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ And the son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ But later he thought better of it and went. Then the father went to his other son and said the same thing to him. This son replied, ‘I will go, sir,’ but he did not go.
Which of the two did what the father wanted?” They answered, “The ?rst.” And Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you: the publicans and the prostitutes are ahead of you on the way to the kingdom of heaven. For John came, to show you the way of goodness, and you did not believe him; but the publicans and the prostitutes did. You were witnesses of this, but you neither repented nor believed him.
Reading: Jesus tells the story of the two sons who were requested by their father to go to his vineyard to work. The first said flatly that he will not obey his father but thought the better of it afterwards and went anyway. The second promised to obey the father’s request but failed to do so. His hearers commended the eldest son who in turn was a mirror of the publicans and the prostitutes who initially violated God’s command but turned a new leaf and repented when they heard the preaching of John. On the other hand, the chief priests and the elders did not effectively take the role of the youngest son.
Reflection: An open rebellion that leads to repentance and consequent obedience is better than a passive obedience that later leads to a secret rebellion. That is why we are better off with people who are loud and transparent with their intentions than those whose mind we cannot read. We know at least what to expect from the former and will be genuinely surprised if they have a change of heart. On the other hand we will have a hard time reconciling the good attitude the former has shown us while secretly harboring seditious thoughts. The known sinners in Jesus’ time were like that. They made no secrets of their opposition to God by the lives they led, yet at a point in time, they changed course and mended their ways. It was a shock to note that those who were so sure of receiving the kingdom were instead disinherited of their claimed birthright because their disobedience was not forthright.
Response: I may be both the elder and the younger son in my response to obedience but they are not ideal examples. I should mean what I say and say what I mean clearly and without pretence. Today I take my word seriously. My word is my bond.
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