Jesus likes to use the example of children in his teaching. When his disciples tried to prevent people from bringing their children to him Jesus rebuked his disciples: “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” (Mark 10:13-16). Jesus invites us to accept the gift of God’s Kingdom with the simplicity and trust of children.
In today’s Gospel Jesus compares his generation to children in the marketplace, calling and complaining to one another: “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.” God sent two messengers to the people, John the Baptist and Jesus. One lived a harsh life of prayer, fasting, and baptizing. Some, so that they would not have to respond to his baptism of repentance demonized him: “He is possessed by a demon.” Jesus’ way was very different from John. He ate and drink with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus’ message put the emphasis on the love and mercy of God whereas John put the emphasis on the wrath of God. So, people could avoid responding to Jesus, they labelled him “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Nevertheless, Jesus proclaims that God’s wisdom, God’s way will win out.
What about our generation today? Are we like the people of Jesus’ generation? In some ways we still are. Some people refuse to respond to God’s call, they will neither dance nor weep. Sometimes we Christians and preachers are at fault. We are followers of Jesus not John the Baptist, yet we tend to preach John’s message of wrath and condemnation. Jesus’ message and way put the emphasis on the love and mercy of God. Pope Francis invites us to the “joy of the Gospel” by accepting the invitation to a daily encounter with Jesus. As we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus wants to “eat and drink” with us. Jesus wants to be our “friend.” Jesus invites us to accept this gift of God’s love and compassion and allow this experience to transform our life. Jesus is “playing the flute” for us, will we dance?
Image: “Children playing outside.” by San José Public Library is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.