“To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep'” (Lk 7:31-32).
Jesus was convicting those who held a narrow view of who was a true follower of God. He illustrated this by sharing the above example that there was no pleasing the listeners, for when the flute was played no one danced, when times of joy arose, there was no celebration, and when the funeral dirge was sung, they did not weep, they did not mourn. Jesus expanded the analogy to his present condition where there were those who did not accept the ascetical practices of fasting and the call to repentance from John the Baptist, nor did they accept the inclusive table fellowship of Jesus.
We also have encountered those that are not pleased beyond their own narrow focus and who suffer from tunnel vision. Anything that hints at even a slight variation of change sends tremors of discontent. And if we are honest, we all have some resistance to change. But if we are to authentically live the Gospel, Blessed John Cardinal Newman’s quote is an apt barometer: “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”
The Church, at her best, is a balance of the rock foundation of our core beliefs, such as the Nicene Creed, which provides stability, assuredness, and identity, while at the same time being open to the life giving movement of the Holy Spirit. Each generation must make the Gospel relevant in our own time. We must be flexible and resist rigidity, legalism, and clericalism, so to avoid molding the Church in our image, but being authentic to renewal, integrity, and embracing the Mystery of God’s movement such that we are molded, transformed, and conformed in the image and likeness of Jesus, who is the embodiment of Love, the Trinitarian communion of which we profess in the Creed.
We can live a life of joy when we are not threatened by those who are different. The gift of Catholicism is the universal call and invitation of Jesus which is open to all of humanity. Embracing, the gift of unity AND diversity, the foundation of the deposit of faith AND variety of cultural expression, the divine and the human, is messy, but this both/and not either/or approach is what Jesus guides us to participate in. Is this challenging? Yes. Hard? Yes. Impossible? On our own, and from our own egoistic perspective, yes. When we are willing to surrender our will to the Father, our heart and mind to the Son, and allow our soul to be led by the Holy Spirit, all things are possible!
Photo: Our daughter, Christy, on her first day of arrival, celebrating her move about five years ago to California and trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit!