The first son in the gospel repented and went to work. Wait! What did he repent of? Of saying no to his Father?
Matthew says he “converted and transformed” his way of seeing things. His worldview had shifted in a revealing path toward the Father, the vineyard, and his obedience.
It is no longer his Father’s vineyard; it is our vineyard. The Father is no longer the master to be submitted to or escaped from, but the grower who calls him to cooperate for a bountiful harvest, for a festive wine for the whole house. Now his heart is unified: by imposition, no one can ever work or love well.
At the center is Jesus’ question: who has done the will of the Father? In what does his will consist? Respectful and obedient children? No, his Father’s dream is a home inhabited not by obsequious servants but by free and adult children, allied with him for the world’s maturing and fruitfulness of the earth.
The Gospel moral is not that of obedience but fruitfulness, good fruit, and swollen clusters of blessings: the Father’s will is that you bear much fruit, and your fruit may remain.
In conclusion, publicans and prostitutes come first. A harsh sentence addressed to us when we say “yes” with empty words, who boast that we are believers but are barren of good works, Christians of façade and not of substance.
But also consoling, for God is not duty but love and freedom.