Thursday, July 6, 2023

The Gospel Reading and Reflection for Sunday, July 9

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

16 "But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,

11:17 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.'

11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon';

11:19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."

11:25 At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants;

11:26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

11:28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

The subheading for vv. 16-19 could read "The Story of the Petulant Children." The children refuse to play the game of sadness or gladness. Here, Jesus likens his generation to unhappy children who are impossible to please. Parents can be very creative in cajoling a child, but a temper tantrum  is sometimes hard to avoid. 

Matthew's theme has jumped from the proclamation and works of the Kingdom of God to commentary on its reception. The focus is now on providing explanation-- why have the majority of the people- "the wise and intelligent ones" - why have they rejected the proclamation of the Kingdom? Jesus will continue to offer explanations throughout the remaining chapters of Matthew.  The children in story comprise the generation who refuse to see and acknowledge God's Kingdom, whether in John's monasticism or in Jesus' wide open, come as you are, table fellowship. The message is revealed to "infants" (not children). 

What then is the third way, the way of wisdom, vindicated by her children? It's the way of receiving with "understanding." Matthew 13: 23. Gratitude and trust sustain the ministry of proclamation and its reception. To contrast with the ingratitude of the children in the story, the way of wisdom is marked with gratitude for being apart of what God is doing in our midst. The way of  wisdom is also the way of trusting God, who is immediately accessible. Those who take up the ministry of teaching and proclaiming the Gospel learn to trust the results to God. 

The whole point of the oft quoted passage of 11:28-30 is that the invitation and gift to live in response to God's kingdom is here and now, always. God can be trusted as the One who created me in love, and I'm capable of trusting God as one created in God's likeness and image.

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