Wednesday of week 24 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Luke 7:31-35

Today’s passage follows immediately after the scene (not in our Mass readings) where Jesus answers the query from John the Baptist languishing in prison about whether Jesus is truly the Messiah. Jesus uses the occasion to speak words of high praise for John, “Of all the children born of women, there is no one greater than John”.

Jesus now criticises the cynicism and self-contradictory attitudes of those who reject both him and John. They have simply closed their ears and want to hear nothing and learn nothing. He compares them to children in a city square calling to their playmates. “When we played lively music for you, you would not dance; when we played funereal music, you would not mourn.”

This comparison Jesus applies to John the Baptist and himself. John led an austere life in the desert eating, as we are told elsewhere, only locusts and wild honey. They said he was mad and rejected him. Jesus came leading a highly convivial life, mixing with all kinds of people. They called him a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and other sinful people. He even invited a tax collector to be one of his twelve Apostles!

It was a no-win situation. When people are like that there is really nothing that can be done. Jesus concludes with the enigmatic statement, “Wisdom has been proved right by all her children.” Both John and Jesus could both be described as children of Wisdom, whose origin is God himself. Those who can see the hand of God in the lives of John and Jesus are also children of Wisdom. Those who adamantly refuse to see God are not.

It is important for us not to fall into such a trap. God speaks to us in so many ways and through so many people and situations. It is very easy to find ourselves excluding a priori the people or situations by which God is trying to reach us.

We cannot expect God to speak to us in ways which we find congenial. He may speak to us through a saint or a sinner. Through a conservative or a liberal. Through a man or a woman – or a young child. Through an old person or a young person. Through an educated or an illiterate person… Through a local person or a foreigner. Through a straight or gay person… Through a saint or a sinner. We have at all times to be ready to listen with an unprejudiced mind and heart.

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