Parable of the Two Sons
"What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, 'I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
Matthew 21: 28-32
Parable of the Two Sons
his text is like a pool into which a stone is dropped producing a ripple effect; meaning upon meaning. At first it appears to be a story about two sons, and the human condition of changing one’s mind.
Then you read the last verses about the tax collectors and prostitutes who accept the Baptist’s teaching, change their lives, and win their way to the kingdom. Jesus is critical of those who refuse to accept the Baptist’s teaching.
Another interpretation identifies the father as God; the son who changes his mind and works in the vineyard as the tax collectors and prostitutes and the second son as the chief priests and elders who refused to accept John’s teaching.
Speaking in Brazil in 1980, John Paul II reflected on how a scripture passage may have a different meaning in a different historical situation. “Since its beginning the Church has continually meditated on these passages and messages, but it is aware that it has not plumbed their depths as it would like... In varying concrete situations it rereads these texts and scrutinizes the message they contain, in the desire of discovering a new application for them.”
We live out our faith in a given concrete situation. Instead of trying to interpret a text with the mindset of the past we relate it to the reality in which we live and use the bible to throw light on this reality.
Read simply as a story drawn from life it speaks to our own changeable, vacillating acceptance of God’s word.
This is the Story of Jesus drawn from the four Evangelists
Gospel passages accompanied by a number of brief commentaries