Stubbornness or surrender?

– 2nd week of Advent –

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ [Matthew 11:18-19]

Opening a closed mind. Is there any task more exasperating? In today’s gospel reading, Jesus’ frustration with those who stubbornly refuse to recognise God’s saving work is palpable. His words drip with a combination of heartfelt anger and lament.

Many of us will have experienced something akin to what Jesus experienced in today’s reading. We can readily empathise with him, knowing to some degree the sense of frustration that he felt.  We may even be able to recall those individuals we know (or knew!) who obstinately refuse(d) to show an open mind on certain matters. Be that as it may, nothing of our experience in this regard can come close to the pain Jesus must have had – and continues to have – in his heart.  For it was not merely one or two people who stopped-up their ears to his message – it was an entire generation (Mt 11:16).

Looking around, we might wonder whether our own generation is, like the one spoken about in the gospel, also closed to Jesus. It may well be. But today, let us ask ourselves this: to what extent do I contribute to Jesus’ frustration and sorrow? To what extent do I shut my eyes and close my ears to him? Is there some stubbornness in my own heart; stubbornness which refuses to let God’s grace transform my life?  Consider letting your prayer today take the form of a sincere request. You might ask something like this:

Holy Spirit, I ask you to enlighten my mind, so that I can see the areas in my life which have been closed off to the lover of my soul, to the healing caresses of the divine physician.”

If any areas are revealed to you, ask God to come in and heal them. 

Let us prepare our hearts to take the place of the manger this Christmas. Let us make them warm and inviting!  Let us open our hearts, minds, and hands such that Christ will have the freedom to grow in us.  Let us yearn to say with St Paul that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

By Mark Makowiecki

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