Today’s Scripture comes from the section of Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus is beginning to get some serious opposition from the Jewish leadership. At the beginning of the chapter John sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he is “the one who is to come, or should we look for another” (v.3) I am willing to bet that they were looking for another because what we are treated to in today’s text is a resounding NO to Jesus’ message. It spells a rejection and a refusal to be moved to believe what they see and hear about Jesus.
How exasperating for Jesus. He has come to share his very self with humanity, even to giving up his life, and we cannot see our way to accepting his message of love. It was too radical for the Jewish leadership to accept then and even today. That is what it boils down to, at least it seems that way to me. If we think that this situation could only happen in Gospel times, then sadly we are very mistaken. Look around, look within!
Have you ever given your love only to have it thrown back in your face? It can be very hurtful and may leave a resentful attitude in our hearts. The miracle about Jesus here is that it doesn’t make him bitter. He willingly continues his mission. I admit to hearing his exasperation but then that is only the author putting those words on the lips of Jesus. I wonder what does the author wish us to understand today more than 2,000 years later at the close of the second week of Advent and on the feast of St. Lucy? The name Lucy means light. What beacon of light do you see and hear in this reading?
For me it is the last line of the text, “But wisdom is vindicated by her works” (at the end of verse 19).
Our first reading from Isaiah speaks to this wisdom and how both to recognize it and receive it. Although we are told how to achieve it, there is simply no earning it. It is a gift and it sets a beautiful future full of hope.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, our sixth grandchild was born—what joy is the gift of new life. This has been a year of babies in our family and among our friends. It fills me with hope to be surrounded by new life!
Psalm 1 also suggests that prosperity comes from being planted deeply in God. That will bear great fruit. Not like the wicked who ignore God’s commands.
How many times have we read these lines and judged those on the “wicked” side of Jesus? That is the easy default pattern. However, I believe the challenge for us is to go deeper with the text long enough to understand something new. The new here is to stay the course amid all the polarization and discouragement. To hope in new life for our future and trust in the divine plan for our world.
May we be firmly rooted in God so that we can stay the course. May we look to the future coming of Christ in our lives, daily. May we know what that looks like! Come, Lord, Jesus, come! Amen.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.