From God's fullness we have all received, grace upon grace
Lectio Divina: “Son, go and work”

Lectio Divina: “Son, go and work”

Gospel reading: Matthew 21.28-32

[Jesus said] ‘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.’


On the first reading of the passage the words that struck me were ‘changed his mind’ (v29), and my initial reflections started along the repentance route. The Greek metanoia literally means changing one’s mind. Whatever our initial reaction, it is always possible to change your mind and (re)align yourself with God’s call. The door is always open.

But on the second reading, I changed my mind!

For the way the reader emphasised ‘Son’ (v28) resonated for me as ‘Beloved’ – ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ (Mark 1.11). Both of the sons in the parable were the father’s Beloved. What they said or did or didn’t do or didn’t say could not alter that. The father would not have asked them to go if they were just anybody. Their sonship underpinned the call to go; it was the ground of the call, its prior necessity.

God calls me ‘Beloved’ and calls me. And even if I am reluctant at first, God doesn’t have a knee-jerk reaction and reject me. There is always grace and an open door.

A secondary (or perhaps underpinning) reflection: I usually approach parables, at least the shorter lesser-known ones, and especially those aimed at the hierarchy, with the audience in mind. What was Jesus trying to tell his listeners back then? But the parables are for all time, including the immediate. Jesus is telling them across the centuries to me, here, now. Jesus is asking me directly: “What do you think?” (v28).


Since April 2020, I have been jointly hosting a shared Lectio Divina group on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. These are my reflections only, during the prayer session and as I wrote them up. Please see my separate commentary and leaflet for more information about shared Lectio.