The Parable of the Two Sons

Matthew 21: 28-32
Zep 3: 1-2, 9-13 / Ps 34: 2-3, 6-7, 17-19 and 23

Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.
(Matthew 21:31)

By obedience are we measured,
And then our forgiving quality;
Our Commitment too is treasured,
Last but not least, our humility.

“What do you think?” Jesus asked them. “There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” (Matthew 21: 28-32)


Jesus gave this parable about two sons: one who initially did not want to obey his father’s command, but later changed his mind, and the second who said, “Yes sir,” but did not obey. Clearly He was referring to the Pharisees and Scribes as the second son, for they were only paying lip service, but were not really following the spirit of the laws of God. The first son represented the sinners – the tax collectors and prostitutes — who, though they had sinned, later repented, and so were admitted into God’s kingdom.

We who have discovered the fellowship of Jesus in our different communities feel fortunate that we heeded His call. We now strive to be good and virtuous in our lives. But take care. Even in our initial ‘success,’ there is still the danger that we may become self-righteous like the Pharisees, who looked down on the tax collectors and prostitutes as if these did not deserve to be saved. In their prejudice and self-righteousness they only earned the contempt of the Lord.

There are three other things that Jesus emphasizes in this parable aside from obedience. The first is the importance of being forgiving in all things and in everyone. Along with ‘forgivefullness,’ the second is the virtue of humility. A passage in the first reading gives emphasis on this: “On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD.” (Zep 3:11-12) Once you start feeling humble, then you’re not. A humble person is never concerned about himself. In fact, he is so full of concern for others that he loses his sense of self.

The third is commitment. Once we have made the commitment to change for the better, the process will snowball, and we will become closer to the Lord and His children. The hard-hearted and the half-hearted are not capable of making lasting commitments. Because it involves a radical change, it takes a soft heart, a great amount of sensitivity to make the shift. It also involves boldness to pursue the object of one’s commitment. The faltering, unsure individual is usually the first to give up or give in when trials come to test his commitment. Only the stouthearted will prevail.

Help me, dear God, to change and make a stand for Jesus Christ, my Lord. In everything I do, I know I must be faithful and true. Perseverance is the only way. Amen.

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