Isaiah 48: 17-19
Matthew 11: 16-19
Yesterday’s reading from Matthew sets the context for today. The relationship of Jesus with his cousin John the Baptizer reflects the two main themes of Advent – repentance and preparedness on the one hand, and the anticipated joy of Jesus coming to be a part of our world in all its physicality and human relationships.
In today’s passage Jesus is expressing frustration at the fact that his generation were critical no matter what he or John did:
Jesus said to the crowd: 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.”
The children here symbolize the people who knew of the ministry of John and Jesus. They blamed John for fasting and they blamed Jesus for eating, because they didn’t want to listen to either of them. But Jesus challenges them: “Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” He is saying that the source of wisdom lies beyond our attempts to understand God. Sometimes it is appropriate for a prophet to foretell doom, to live an ascetic lifestyle fasting and praying for God’s people as John did. Sometimes it is appropriate and needful that a preacher call people to know the love of God, “which surpasses all understanding.”
The fact is we need both – to be held accountable for the gifts God has given us, and also to be reassured and loved and encouraged. We need spiritual nourishment as well as spiritual tonics. That is the journey of Advent.
Sr. Constance Joanna, SSJD