Homily for December 9th, 2016: Mathew 11:16-19.
Jesus speaks often of children in the gospels, usually in a positive sense In today’s gospel Jesus speaks about a negative aspect of childhood. Grieved that so few of his own people have responded either to his cousin, John the Baptist, or to himself, Jesus compares them to children who reject every approach of those who reach out to them in loving concern. ‘You complained that John was too strict and ascetic,” Jesus says in effect. ‘Me you find too laid back and merciful. What do you want?’ Jesus asks them.
Children can be like that. I experienced it myself, in my own childhood. I might have been nine years old, or even younger, with a sister seven, and a brother five. I remember my father saying to another grownup, in a tone of resigned frustration: “My children are contra-suggestive.” I no longer know what occasioned this remark, but I can easily imagine it. Whatever my father suggested, by way of a leisure activity – whether it was a walk, a drive in the country, or a visit to a museum – we said: “Oh, no -- we don’t want to do that.”
Most of us carry over this childhood stubbornness into adult life. We’d like to determine our own agenda, thank you. But of course we can’t. God set the agenda for us before we were even born. “My yoke is easy”, Jesus says, “and my burden light” (Mt. 11:30). Jesus’ yoke is easy, however, only if we accept it. Otherwise it chafes. How better could we respond to Jesus’ words in today’s gospel than to pray: “Not what I want, Lord, but what you want.”