26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 18:25-28 II:
28 "What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.'
29 And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterward he repented and went.
30 And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go.
31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.
Context: The chief priests and the elders challenged the authority of
Jesus, starting a lengthy and harsh confrontation, which firmed up their
decision to arrest and kill Jesus.
According to Pilch, a Christian missionary told this story in the Middle
East but changed the question to "Which was the better son?" and most people
said that the son who said yes but not doing it was better. It is more
important to reply respectfully than to perform the act itself. Thus Jesus'
teaching, that the action counts even when there was an initial disrespect,
was surprising to these people, though probably not so to most Westerners.
(v.31) Tax collectors are bad because they often cheat people, and they
took money from the Jews to give it to the alien oppressors, the Romans.
Prostitutes are bad not only because of their sexual sins but also because
they often sold their services to the Roman soldiers.
Who are the ones who said no but repented? There are various
interpretations. They can be sinners, as the terms "tax collectors and
harlots" indicate. They can also be pagans (Jerusalem Bible). Nowadays, they
can be those who do not belong to the mainstream such as the "moral majority."
The story only said that the son "he repented and went", but did not say how
well he did it. Thus repentance and good intention is more important than the
outcome of the task.
Conversely, who are the ones who said yes but did not obey? They can be
the chief priests and elders of the people whom Jesus told the parable to.
They can be Jews who did not accept Jesus. Nowadays, they can be the church
people who say all the right things and be in all the right places but do not
love others as Jesus commands.
One Main Point
The response to Jesus is a critical. Those who truly do the will
of God will enter the kingdom.
- Listen to Jesus saying to me, "Son, go and work in the vineyard today."
What is the vineyard, and what work does Jesus invite me to do?
- Examine my good deeds. Are they more external like the son saying yes
(which is good and important), or are they following what God wants me to do?
Enter Reader's Response or View Reader's Response this week
A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community