You did not dance
Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (11: 16-19) in which Jesus compares his generation to children in the marketplace who say to others: ‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance’.
This Gospel is also called, at times, the parable of the playing children. It is a Gospel that offers the stark contrasts that Matthew loves to use. Before explaining those contrasts, Fr Paul asks us to think back over the Gospels of previous days in this second week of Advent, and we find that John the Baptist is again present as we read this Gospel. What is also present is the idea of Wisdom; The Wisdom we spoke of a couple of days ago; A Wisdom that stands in the doorway and invites in all those who are passing by.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is saying that whatever the messenger of the Kingdom of God does the people of God refuse to join in; they just won’t play ball. If sad songs were being played, they would not be mourners. If happy songs were played, they still wouldn’t dance. Whatever the message is, they are refusing to join in.
Matthew usually uses contrast to contrast between good and evil but this time he is contrasting John the Baptist with Jesus. John didn’t eat or drink and as the messenger of the Kingdom the people refused to believe. In contrast, Jesus came eating and drinking, associating with sinners and tax collectors and, again, as the messenger they would not believe. Matthew contrasts the two different ways they tried to bring the message to the people.
Fr Paul invites us to reflect on this Gospel and on the people’s refusal to accept the message. He asks that we might reflect in our own hearts: What I am refusing to accept? What am I refusing to listen to, particularly through our Gospel readings? What am I refusing to acknowledge in my life? and maybe in identifying those areas, we might open our hearts as our Advent journey continues.