29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) 31 Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “We played the pipe for you; and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.” 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.
Opposition is inevitable when we talk and walk the way of truth. The unhinged perspectives over the call of John the Baptist, to repent to the Lord, distracted the law experts and the Pharisees. They never approved the baptism of John; however, they feared to talk about him due to the candid public opinion of John.
Today’s passage hints at the rigidity of the religious leaders who boxed their imaginations and the work of God into a mundane structure. They would have felt that their holy system was abducted by the new moral/ spiritual movement of John which called for an introspection and repentance of the people. This led to dissolve the lacuna between the so-called “sinners” and “saints”.
In the journey of life, the process of self- introspection is vital to live under ethical and moral values. Temporary stops or halts in life are a gift to turn our past pages, to set the direction for a better future. One of the important theological themes that runs all through the Scripture is “turn to God”.
Jesus was keen in grounding his teaching with a new “weltanschauung” that moralized and humanized people in building a new community drenched with God’s unconditional love for the repented. John’s path was a little rigid and focused on the idea of self-abnegation. Even though Jesus' way seems similar, His life and works were affirmative about one’s self in God. His activities declared that the kingdom of God is at hand and wanted the people to realize that God is with us. Secondly, the affirmative about the other in God apparently converges with the totality of ultimate grace.
Jesus accommodated everyone in his domain by reaching out to them. He was extended God’s hand for redemption/ salvation and liberation. His association with the so- called “odds” of society and the pragmatic culture that undid the general norm of spirituality alarmed the dominant and powerful. Jesus was cynical about their attitude and their immaturity. Their behaviors reflected their meanness and short-sightedness over the mission of God. By saying,
“They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
“We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.”
He highlights their arrogance and obstinacy and focuses their lack of understanding the relationship with the so called “sinners” and “cursed ones” in the then society. God in Christ came to the world to save the sinners. He came to redeem the bonded people; the crux of the mission is saving people not discriminating or segregating. Thus, Jesus was concerned about the hostility of the religious leaders towards the affirmative actions of Christ which focused mainly to offer life to all. With the inclusive philosophy, Jesus differed from the exclusive understanding of religion and God by the leaders.
We, as the Episcopal church, strongly affirm the inclusive principle; let us continue to do God’s true mission.
God Bless these words. Amen