December 14 / Second Friday of Advent
Jesus said to the crowds, “To what will I compare this generation?It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’”~Matthew 11:16-17
Anyone who has spent time with a three-year-old or a 13-year-old knows this: There’s no pleasing some folks. The toddler refuses to eat his dinner or rejects an offer to play outside with a vehement “NO!” The teenager rolls her eyes at an invitation to see a movie with her parents or complains bitterly about a teacher. Most of the time, these nabobs of negativity are not acting out of willed perversity. Rather, unsettled by the change and growth they are encountering, they are trying to assert control in circumstances that might otherwise overwhelm them. “This generation” of religious leaders whom Jesus takes to task in today’s Gospel, though far removed historically and culturally from 21st-century teenagers, resemble them in their resistance to the new and different. Given two successive models of the prophetic life, they reject each. First, they censure the asceticism of John the Baptist as demonic. Then they promptly label Jesus, who forgoes asceticism, as a glutton and a drunkard. In other words, there’s no pleasing them. But before we smile condescendingly at their negativity towards the life-changing message of Jesus, we might look in the mirror. Does Christ unsettle us, too? Do we sense that a full-bodied commitment to our faith might cause us to grow in ways that are scary? Do we make up excuses to stay in the known world, refusing to relinquish our comfortable patterns of life to Jesus? Today, our Lord calls us to strike out after him in faith and trust, and to reply to his invitation with a resounding “YES!”
Almighty God, Spirit of Truth, give me the spirit of courage so that I might fully embrace your call to a new way of life. Amen.