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Luke 7:31-35

The Word of God

Jesus said, 'To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another,
"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep."
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, "He has a demon"; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, "Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!" Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.'

Luke 7:31-35
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • There are matters which get space in the Gospel, but which are not ‘hot’ topics for us. The relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus has long been settled but at the time of the Gospels, it was a matter of discussion and debate. To over-simplify the issue; to some followers of John, it was clear that since John baptised Jesus, he must be above Jesus. Today, we can leave that issue aside and look at the moral issue the passage raises.
    • To what extent do we address situations, motivated by our attitudes rather than by principles. Some we call ‘gluttons’ and others we call ‘possessed’ because it suits us. Reflection on the situation in our world shows that this this simple saying of Jesus casts a light on our badly polarised world and, also on our own judgements.
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    • A child’s complaints are compelling; their experience of being treated unfairly takes them over. Jesus sees childishness in how some adults behave. Is there some way in which I suspect Jesus is inviting me to grow up?
    • Much of the social commentary of our age is like the children shouting in the marketplace – transitory, inescapable, momentarily engaging but shallow. Being here, now, is my way of connecting with a lasting, truer message. I take the time I need to let the surface chatter go and to listen for God, who speaks in the depth of my heart.
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    • This scripture passage reminds us that children tend to act out of their feelings of the present moment. Mature adulthood can share feelings but can put order into life and give preference to reason and trust. God helps us to grow in this kind of maturity, and through our relationship with Him we learn to follow His ways. He passes on His wisdom to us so that we can be in charge in our lives, not be victims of our moods. Lord, that I may see and understand.
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    • It can be very easy to find excuses in a given situation, to remain sitting on the fence - finding fault about all the available alternatives, without getting involved. I ask for wisdom, which is always related to concrete action, notwithstanding all the limitations of real situations.
    • I wonder who are the children who vindicate wisdom. Probably those who are wise enough to accept their lot and see possibilities of good action, those who struggle to bring up their families silently but faithfully, those who do their duty without fear or favour, those who strive to live a life of integrity even when they feel alone and isolated in doing this. I ask to be counted among these blessed children of wisdom.
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    • Jesus here is trying to shake us up! Do I need a shake? Am I any more than half-alive? My soul can become numb, paralysed, drugged, fragmented. I can remain unmoved no matter what God does for me. Sometimes the pain of others does not move my heart. I can be hard to please: psychologists speak of persons who live lives of ‘a thousand little disgusts’! Gratitude and praise for God’s goodness can be weak and faltering in me.
    • Jesus, pull me out from my self-made tombs so that I may live out my life with you to the full. I want to be as you are, fully alive and vibrant with the life of God.
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    • Children complain to one another when the rules of the game are not observed. Jesus sees that adults, too, can have simplistic expectations and readily make superficial comparisons. He asks us to see beyond the surface, to reflect more fully, to let our prayer go deeper. If we are able to give time and attention to noticing where God is moving in our midst, we may be able to receive God’s gifts of wisdom and insight.
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    • God wants us to rejoice in the good things of life. We should celebrate friendship, marriage and family, births, achievements and games. God will ask us at the End: ‘Did you enjoy my creation?’ God will hope for the answer ‘Yes!’
    • But there is also another side to life. We are to follow Jesus in the breaking of Bread, and in drinking of the cup of his Passion. I am reluctant, Lord, to take up your Cross daily. I shun pain, hurt and loss. Teach me to find you in suffering. Passion of Christ, comfort me! Comfort originally meant ‘to give courage and strength’ rather than ‘to make pain go away’.
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    • Jesus is not afraid to speak the truth. He exposes the wilful perversity, contrariness and stubbornness of heart of the Pharisees and Scribes. Unlike the tax-collectors and sinners, they refuse to recognise God’s presence in Jesus. No appeal of his penetrates their hearts. They refuse to repent and so they miss the moment of grace.
    • Lord, I too can be contrary of heart, blind and deaf to your truth. I go through periods of negativity and complaint, when nothing seems to please me. Come to me in my poverty of spirit. Reveal love’s wisdom to me and let me be counted among your children.
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    • It would have been almost impossible for a Roman Centurion to put his faith, humbly, in an itinerant Jewish preacher. The culture and politics of supremacy would have ruled out contact, let alone this act of faith and homage. His act of faith, so unexpected and against the culture, was a gift. It made a huge impression on Jesus. Do I find myself, at times, weak in faith, discouraged by the atmosphere and culture around me? What about the gift that the centurion got? Am I open to receive it?
    • Jesus is trying to find a hearing from the people he is talking to. We can always find reasons for not listening to someone - we criticise some for being too spiritual, others for being too unspiritual. Jesus asks that we look into our own hearts and find the way to conversion from there, without comparisons or condemnation with regard to others. Prayer is one of the fields of conversion in our lives.
    • Jesus' frustration with his hearers is behind this short group of sayings. He could never please everyone. He knows that he will be accepted in faith by some, and that his way of life will make sense to faithful followers. In prayer we often wonder what he means by some sayings and stories. We are led in the words of Jesus into the mystery of God's communication with us.