NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST This is the day the LORD hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 Phil. 2:1-11 Matthew 21:28:32 Psalm 25:1-10
God makes it clear to His people that He hold each person responsible for his own actions. It was the sins of the present generation, no less than those of former ones which had caused God at the start to intervne in judgement. God also makes it clear that when He does act in this way, it is not because He takes pleasure in the death of the wicked. God's good and gracious will is rather that all may repent and live.
The Gospel lesson today answers the same complaint made in the OT lesson, but for a different reason. It is not only God's acts of judgment which strike people as being unfair; God's grace to sinners also seems unjust to those who feel no personal need for it. In the parable about the two sons, Jesus vividly portrays to the Pharisees their own guilt in rejecting the way of righeousness proclaimed by John the Baptist and found in Christ. They, no less than the tax collectors and prostitutes, need to repent and believe.
Jesus tells this parable to illustrate that such middle ground has no place in God's reign. Only the first Son does his father's will. God continually calls the church to surrender the safe middle ground in regard to repentance and to announce a forgiveness that is firmly grounded in the holy waters of baptism. Such radical forgiveness disrupts our lives, and yet it is a sign of God's ever increasing reign of justice and peace.
Christian friends, Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we enter the vineyard. Day after day, we have new, fresh, life-giving work to do.
If God had given work for you to do, Start this very hour; You supply the willingness, Christ supplies the power.
PRAY with me: O God, the strength of all who put their trust in You, mercifully accept our prayer, and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without Your aid, grant us the help of Your grace that, keeping Your commandments we may please You in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our LORD, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen