In today’s Gospel we listen to the ongoing conversation of Jesus with the Pharisees. In yesterday’s reflection I asked, “what will you see?” Today we see part of the answer on the part of the Pharisees. And buried in that reply is one small phrase that points to the fact that they heard and inferred clearly what Jesus was claiming: that He was God. They rejected that saying, “We have one Father, God.”
It is often said that “the good” becomes the enemy when it keeps you from “the best.”
The idea that there is one God and one alone is good. When it is held on so tightly that it keeps you from the fuller revelation of God as the Holy Trinity, then, in its own way, it kept you from the best.
One wonders how serious the Pharisees were when the talk was brought up that Jesus was “born of fornication.” Was it just a taunt? An insult? A way to dismiss Jesus so that they would not have to deal with His teachings, the miracles, His power over demons and nature – and all the rest that screamed the kingdom of God is arriving and is now among them?
Jesus’ response: “If God were your Father, you would love me” is as though Jesus were saying, “Love would be your response to My words, My works, the miracles, and the whole message I bring. Love would always be your response.”
Love would be the agent that carries you from the “good” to the “best.”
Those Asian American kids are really good at math, science, and technology.
Those Asian American kids are really focused on achievement and getting good grades.
Those Asian American kids know their manners and are respectful.
All good things. Are these the good things that keep us from our best response of love?
A 2012 study, “When Compliments Fail to Flatter” appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published by the American Psychological Association. One of the conclusions about generalizing compliments is that they allow the speaker to feel they have done a good thing. The study shows that the result is highly depersonalizing and strongly impedes a pathway to a personal relationship. And those are the good things, the compliments.
What about all the other things? What about the slurs, negative comments, or the compliments made to ensure “they” stay in their place?
The Pharisees threw out an insult to dismiss Jesus so they would not have to deal with Him – would not have to act in love.
Maybe the words we use are our ways of not having to deal with others, not having to act in love. Today’s gospel asks many things of us. In part it asks us to make sure our ways, words, and worries are not held so tightly that they keep us from the best.