Proper 21 – Year A

Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; (or Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-8); Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

“In spite of our wisdom and sensible talking, we on our feet must go plodding and walking.” – Anonymous

In this parable of Jesus a man had two sons. He tells the one to go work in the vineyard. He says: “No way.” Later he changes his mind and goes to work (Matthew 21:29). The father tells his other son to go and work in the vineyard. This son says: “Sure thing, Dad.” But he ends up not going (Matthew 21:30). The question Jesus poses is: who did the will of the father? Jesus’ point is that the chief priests and elders of the people, the respected wise ones, are like the second son who talked a good line but did not obey. In contrast Jesus says that even prostitutes and tax collectors are ultimately on the right track (Matthew 21:31). In our individual lives can we relate more to the ultimately obedient first son, or to the second son who has sensible talk but no walk? Perhaps most people are in the first son category. In spite of a rare evil deceptive person, most of us try to do what is right. We may be confused at times, which causes us to make wrong decisions. Life may throw us an unexpected curve that makes us truly wonder what God could possible want us to do. However, most people are doing the best they can. God honors that. If God himself can cut us some slack, let us do so for each other. God takes our rambling lives and gives them direction. Obedience to God is not a simple matter of following orders or rules. It has to do with being open to God’s shaping of our lives. It is a work in progress.


Matthew 21:29 says that the first son changed his mind and went to work after all. The word is variously translated repented, changed his mind, or thought better of it. The Greek work is a compound word (two words put together) meaning to take a care after. It is more like to change what one has at heart. This is something deep down, heartfelt. In all of the New Testament Matthew is the only author who uses this word.


Seems murky at times?

God with us so clears the fog.

To vineyard at last.