The American Catholic points out that Jesus’s message in today’s Gospel would have been far more shocking to those first hearing it than it seems to us because of the particular cultural circumstances. The Jews of the time regarded prostitutes and ‘tax collectors’ (collaborators with the occupying Romans) with far greater revulsion than those terms convey to us today. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to present the passage with, ah, ‘culturally appropriate’ terms just to give an idea of the passage’s intended effect:
But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work today on my farm. And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went. And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering, said: I go, Sir; and he went not.
Which of the two did the father’s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you, that the Klansmen and the rapists shall go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the Klansmen and the rapists believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.