“You should know how to behave in the household of God” 1 Timothy 3:14
Not long ago, I was in a grocery store where a 9-year-old boy loudly questioned his mother, “But why can’t I have an iPhone?” His exasperated Mum, hauling along his younger sister with one hand, and pushing her over-laden cart with the other, prudently chose to ignore his question. Dad soon approached, and little sister soon began to question him. “Dad when are we getting our treat? You promised us a treat!” I could not help smiling to myself, relieved, both that my days of grocery-shopping with little ones in tow were behind me, and that the iPhone did not exist when my three children were in elementary school.
The scene was reminiscent of the scene that Jesus describes in today’s Gospel
Children in the marketplace complaining because others were not meeting their expectations. They had complaints about John the Baptist because he was radically austere. Then they complained about Jesus, calling him a glutton and a drunkard because He spent time eating and drinking with sinners and tax-collectors.
Jesus likens His listeners to petulant children in the marketplace, wanting this, that, and the other. Complaining when the game was not played the way they wanted. Wanting to make their own rules and make everyone else play along. Their wants and needs crowded out the truths that should have been plain to see.
Jesus has already provided plenty of proof to the chosen people of His identity and divine origin – His sinless life, His many miracles and His authoritative teaching of scripture should have convinced the skeptics of His authenticity – instead, the chosen people end up ‘missing’ the very Messiah they have waited for with eager anticipation for generations.
There is something in the human heart that resists truth even when it is plain to see. As expressed by St. Thomas Aquinas, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
What blinded the children of Israel then, and blinds us believers now, reducing us to petulant children? We complain about the Church and want it to change with the times – the Church defined by St. Paul as the household of the living God and the pillar and foundation of truth.
There are teachings of Christ that are particularly hard to obey – forgiveness and reparation, reconciliation with estranged loved ones, obedience to the Church’s moral laws, fidelity to Christ as Saviour and Lord. Obedience to these precepts will change our perspective and make us channels of His life-giving love instead of grumblers and faultfinders in the Christian household.
The responsorial psalm today reminds us to give public thanks to God for His deeds of power and mercy. May the remembrance of His faithfulness provide the solid foundation we need for a life free of idolatry and dissatisfaction.
Come, let us give thanks to the Lord with all our heart in the company and assembly of the just.