Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
Matthew 21: 28-32
There are several passages in the readings today that strike me. But there are a few in particular that are very powerful to me:
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
You did not believe him;
But tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
You did not later change your minds and believe him.
Conventional wisdom might say that if tax collectors and prostitutes believe in someone – run in the other direction! But Jesus, who lives and breathes beyond the confines of all that is "conventional," challenges the chief priests and elders to get beyond their own egoistic judgment which keeps them from the true source of love and peace. The first reading, too, mirrors the sad isolation that comes from such headstrong, spiritually immature and destructive behavior:
She hears no voice,
Accepts no correction;
In the Lord she has not trusted,
To her God she has not drawn near.
We have been given the incredible gift of a God who will love us even when we doubt, even when we err, even when we are foolish, childish and obstinate for a time. In order to "draw near to our God," which is where our ultimate peace lies, we’re not expected to be anything close to perfect; we just have to be willing to bend, to trust, to believe, to surrender. And we can mess it up and still have a chance if only we will try again!
There is a beautiful passage at the end of the first reading that captures, so simply, the gift that awaits the humble people who take refuge in the Lord:
They shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them.
Amen to that.
Nancy Nickel is Director of Communications at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.