OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
After many years, I met a friend who proudly introduced me to her four-year old child. Thrilled, I extended my hand to her as a sign of friendship to my surprise the child sulked, sneered at me and ran away. No matter what approach I tried, I failed so I left her alone to enjoy her own world.
The attitude of Jesus’ contemporaries was like petulant children who refused to join any activity no matter how varied the choices offered. Jesus and John the Baptist employed different approaches to proclaiming the Kingdom of God. John the Baptist’s approach was ascetic and sober; Jesus’ way was more lighthearted as “eating and drinking” suggest. Both were rejected by the people.
Sometimes God comes in the most unexpected ways. How open are we to receive him? Do we behave like the obstinate children in the gospel or like the deer that yearns for the spring of water? (Sr. Mildren Arcos, SSpS Bible Diary 2002)
Once I came across a cartoon strip depicting this situation: a man and a woman appear stranded on an island. The man looks suggestively at the woman. Apparently, he had said something seductive to her because the scene shows her shaking her head and emphatically saying, “I will know. That’s who will know!” Remarkable integrity and inner freedom!
The people who opposed Jesus expected him to dance to their tune. Their tune, however, was arbitrary, for it catered to their hidden selfish ambitions and desires. Jesus knew. He remained unaffected by these pressures. He danced to his own tune. He was directed by inner motives that he felt secure and certain about. Attuned to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, he was single-hearted in following the Father’s will. He was therefore certain of the fruit of all that he did. He knew where they come from.
In my daily life I hear many voices from within and from without. Do I dance to the tune of pakikisama in order to win approval, in order to belong, no matter what? Or do I foster in myself critical, reflective thinking to discern what is of true and what is not? Am I attuned to the still inner voice of the Spirit? (Sr. Lou Anne, SSpS Bible Diary 2004)
If we want to, it’s easy to find fault with fellow human beings. Isn’t it? Being human, each one of us has his/her share of weaknesses and that’s not difficult to detect. Even with the best of us one may find fault still.
Take John the Baptist, for example. A great prophet, he prepared the way for the Messiah. And when the Messiah did come, he himself said of John that none of those born of women was greater than John.
For his part, John did not consider himself worthy to untie Jesus’ sandal straps. He knew himself only too well in relation to the messiah and proclaimed him as such when at last he came. He preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He harangued lawyers and soldiers and other sinners; he subsisted on locusts and honey. Truly, ho towered over other mortals. And how did the fault-finders regard him? A demoniac, one possessed by a demon!
Even with Jesus Himself who, in contrast to John, was often seen with the lowly and the outcasts, partying with them, people found fault. How did they call Him? A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!
Was Jesus aware of the kind of reputation he was having? Only too well. In fact in our gospel, he is the one who brings out the contrast between himself and John, leading us to understand that people will find fault with us whether we act in this way or that.
As it was then, so it is now. The fault-finders are with us still and their tribes keep increasing. If would be disastrous if we led our lives trying to please them. We should leave according to our convictions, just like John, just like Jesus. And it should be an essential part of our convictions that there is goodness in everyone and that to help bring that out is to help build up people. Evil we must avoid and denounce, but it should be our joy to foster the good. (Fr. Dong Alpuerto, SVD Bible Diary 2005)
“To shall I compare this generation?” in Matthew this is a statement with an unfavorable nuance. The members of “this generation” were as stubborn as children who always wanted to play some other game than the one suggested by their playmates – a childish attitude. Due to their unbelief, Jesus rebuked the ways of the Jews as being childish. God had done all things possible, yet the Jews refuse to believe and cooperate.
God sent John the Baptist and then Jesus. John and Jesus lived diverse manners of life. John lived an austere and ascetic life, almost weird in the eyes of the Jews, “neither eating nor drinking”. He was thought to be a demoniac. Jesus in turn, made no departure from the usual, ordinary lifestyle of the Jews. He ate and drank with people, even with society’s outcasts. He was called a “glutton and a drunkard.”
No approach could satisfy the Jews if it suggested a change in their belief and way of life. “This generation” due to their hardheadedness and pride stuck to their expectations of who the Messiah should be and how God’s manner of liberation must be.
How about our generation? Are we open to the ways of His Spirit who blows where He wills? Are we open to the many changes and surprises God brings in our life, in the church, in the world?
A writer tells the following story about herself: Occasionally I meet someone who seems to have a secret, some special knowledge that sets that person apart. Such a person is Ruby Freedom. I met her when she was conducting a Holy Land Tour. I said to myself, she must have a secret. How else can she accomplish so much, so easily? I envied her…she was a good listener, a troubleshooter, an organizer, a mother hen to all 72 of us…and a real mother to her two children. Yet, she never tired, she was never out of sorts. I wanted to know what her secret was. Then back home I visited Ruby. And I discovered her secret. There it was, a two-word motto over her kitchen sink. It said, “YES, LORD!”
May the power of the Word give us the grace to always say YES to the many changes and surprises God gives in this journey we call life. (Fr. Manny de Leon, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
There is a saying in our vernacular that goes, “sala sa init, sala sa lamig.” No matter what you do, the effort is always wanting.
Is this not our experience as a country now? We are never satisfied with what is. We always want changes. We want to change our leaders every now and then but we cannot present reasonable alternatives. Can we not postpone our negative remarks and reactions and try to see what is behind the seemingly hopeless situation?
When I was still a seminarian, I remember that some of my comments regarding some priests were harsh. Now that I am already a priest I am eating my own words, and having a dose of my own medicine. After all, it is not easy to be a priest, a good one, that is. I realize that experience, as usually the case, it is the best teacher.
Jesus in our gospel is describing the people of his time, pointing at their failure to respond accordingly to what he is offering. They did not see the messageand purpose of John the Baptist, branding him as a demon-possessed. They even regarded Jesus as a glutton and a drunkard. They negatively looked at Jesus and the purpose why He came.
Sometimes we are no more than the people during the time of Jesus. We are indifferent to what God is presenting us – the fullness of life and salvation. In this season of Advent we ask God to grant us the grace of openness to see beyond what meets the eye, to exercise justice in everything and to love every person that comes our way. (Fr. Gerry Paat, SVD Bible Diary 2007).
A grandfather (lolo) and his young grandson are leading their old horse to town from the village. Along the way, they hear people comment: “Why do those two not ride on the horse.”
Irked by the comment, the lolo mounts the horse and lets his grandson lead the horse. But people they meet shake their heads and remark: “Isn’t it funny that this old man should be riding while that poor child has to walk?” So after a few meters away, he dismounts and lets his grandson mount the horse this time. When they meet some more people, they hear criticisms like, “How shameful! This kid is riding while his lolo is walking. Why does this old man permit it to happen?”
Whereupon, the lolo decides to end all those criticisms by riding on the horse together with the lad but people, along the way, see them and remark: “Goodness, don’t they pity that poor old horse with that weight? Shame on them!”
Completely at a loss, the old man and his grandson end up carrying the horse!
The gospel today shows how the Lord Jesus was criticized and rejected by His own countrymen but, unlike the fickle-minded grandfather in the story, Jesus remained firm and steadfast in His conviction.
Jesus compared His unbelieving countrymen to children who were playing but did not respond. He did everything to win His own people but they turned their backs on Him. They even went to the extent of calling Him a “glutton, drunkard, friend of tax collectors and sinners!”
If the Lord was not spared of criticisms and harsh words, then it can happen to ordinary mortals, like you and me.
We are all vulnerable to destructive criticisms. We should not worry if there’s no truth to these because they will eventually die down.
The question is, what if there is some truth to these criticisms hurled on us? Then we should be humble enough to admit our faults and mistakes and learn from them. (Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD Bible Diary 2009)
December 14, 2012
St. John of the Cross,
priest and doctor
[Jesus said to the crowds,] 16“To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 17‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”
It is like children. Being childlike is different from being childish. Being childlike means trusting someone you look up to, confidently believing and accepting what the person tells you. Being childish is being stubborn or ungovernable, being unreasonable or hardheaded.
Jesus calls us to be childlike. He pinpoints the childish attitude of his listeners. They refuse to commit themselves either to John’s call of repentance or to the saving works of Jesus. They prefer to be fence-sitters. Commitment is decisiveness—to be either for Christ or against him.
We are often childish: we want God to do what we ask when we want it. We make God conform to our needs and adjust to our lifestyles. We do not heed God’s messages for us. We seek to be excused from observing God’s commandments or choose what we want to follow and obey. Let us stop playing games with God and participate in his saving plan.
I will dedicate and commit myself to Jesus—totally and completely.
Reflection for Friday December 12, Our Lady of Guadalupe; Matthew 11:16-19 Reflection: Are you quick to judge based on what you see? The people during Jesus and John’s time most especially the Pharisees and scribes were like that also. They judge both John and Jesus; John they judged as having a demon and Jesus as a glutton and a drunkard. They based their judgment on the external actuations that they saw.
However, their judgment was misplaced and farthest from the truth. Those who judged Jesus and John should have first tried to know them first by becoming their followers but they never cared to follow, they instead quickly judged. Thus, they missed the opportunity of a lifetime to know John and Jesus.
Those who judge allow themselves to be controlled by their misplaced emotions. Those who judge usually end-up missing something worthy and beautiful from the person that they judge.
There are times that I see married couples the husband is handsome but the wife is not beautiful and vise-versa. I usually tell myself, how come they ended-up in the altar of married life? The reason behind is simple, they never cared to judge based on what they saw on their future spouse. They instead delve deeper, thus they discovered how beautiful the character of the person they chose to be with for the rest of their lives.
Are you quick to judge? – Marino J. Dasmarinas
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