Breaking barriers building bridges- Wednesday, 24th Week in ordinary time – Lk 7:31-35
Jesus is in Capernaum; He has healed a centurion’s servant and raised the widow’s son at Nain (7:1-17). We will see something similar in 8:40-56, only this time round he will cure a sick woman and raise a dead woman to life. St. Luke bookends this section with similar miracle stories but true to his presentation of Jesus the miracles are for all; men and women.
For Luke, the mission of Jesus is ‘for all’ and ‘to all’. It is meant to present Jesus as one who has come to shatter all boundaries of divisions. Jesus is breaking down barriers as much as He builds bridges. However all do not receive his mission with the same openness. The resistance to His calling is quite clear and it seems that Jesus expresses this frustration quite openly in today’s Gospel reading.
Throughout this section, pulsates the theme of ‘who does’ and ‘who does not’ respond generously to God’s messengers, be it John the Baptist and now Jesus, the Messiah. Interestingly it is the Gentiles, tax collectors, sinners and the hopelessly sick who acknowledge Jesus’ words; they hear His word and follow it. This is the new Israel, the new reconstituted Israel.
In sharp contrast stand the “Pharisees and the lawyers who rejected the baptism of John the Baptist and in doing so rejected God’s purpose for themselves” (vese30). Their behaviour is now tantamount to childish stubbornness for all they desire is to follow their own way.
While they reject the ascetic life style of John the Baptists as too rigorous they reject the table fellow ship that Jesus is so often found at, as being a lifestyle of a “glutton and drunkard”. Neither mournful durges nor happy songs would make this passionate group of Jesus haters sway.
Perhaps there is something here for us to learn from the behaviour of the Pharisees, something to pause and think about. It is not the environment around us that is the cause of our happiness or unhappiness, for if you look the world has both. The truth perhaps is that most of us live in a self -inflicted world of unhappiness; a world where all we do is seek to find blame and pin it on those around us for the misery we think we are in, when in reality the cause of our unhappiness is self-created. And as we grumble and mourn there are others who have learnt to smile and laugh.
We played the flute for you and you did not dance, we wailed and you did not weep.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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