Read Matthew 21:28-32

“But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.

“Which of the two obeyed his father?”

They replied, “The first.”

Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.

When I was in middle school, we lived on a 40-acre farm in Michigan. We didn’t farm it, but we did have a big garden: corn, tomatoes, beans, cukes, the usual. For me, the worst chore was hoeing corn. I hated it. The ground was hard, the hoe was dull. Why did I have to do this? Why couldn’t I slip across the road to the old school house, where boys were playing baseball?

In the Matthew story of the two sons, I totally identify with the first. Sure, sure, I tell my father, I’ll get it done. But as soon as he goes to work, I grab my baseball glove and split. Meanwhile, my older brother, Jake, gets the same instruction. Hoe the corn today. Jake and my father are like oil and water on a hot stove. Jake immediately puts up a fight. No way, he says. I hoed it last week. Besides, I have other things to do. My father raises his voice: I expect you boys to do it. Don’t get your hopes up, Jake says.  Fuming, our father leaves for work.

When I get home from playing ball that afternoon, I see my older brother walking in from the corn patch, a hoe on his shoulder. He goes straight for the water pump in the yard, drinks and washes the dirt and sweat from his hands and face, then enters the house.

I look at him and I feel ashamed. He gives me the evil eye.