In this passage, John the Baptist sends some of his disciples to search out Jesus and his message. Jesus is discouraged in this scene: John the Baptist has preached his message of austerity, whereas Jesus brings his message of joy and wisdom. What is confusing is that the crowds listened to Jesus, their leaders did not accept his message, Jesus tells his listeners that they are like children. If he plays them a song or game of joy and celebration, they reject it, if he plays them a game of sadness. They will reject it! Jesus says they are like children who demand everyone should adjust to the changes in their moods. Jesus says he understands their doubts, but their indifference and confusion are what will destroy them.
Several years ago, the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago had a wonderful exhibit. One of the rooms was a large room with strings of plastic that extended from the ceiling to the floor. It was entitled something like “Rain Forest.” As you might suspect everyone walked by very careful to avoid “Getting wet!” However, one little fellow broke rank and stepped into the “rain.” Very soon other little ones enjoined running in the rain and not getting wet. Needless to say, some of the adults joined in the innocence of joy.
What Luke tells us is that Jesus came to spread the good news that the Kingdom of God was at hand. To join in this community, one needs to seek the will of God and be of service to one another.
Fr. Ken O’Malley, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community at Sacred Heart Monastery in Louisville, Kentucky.