Wednesday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
The self-defense from the others
Then 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.’ For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” Lk 7,31-35
The words of the today gospel, at a first glance, do not instill confidence as usual; rather, they ask questions to us a bit unsettling: are we not similar to those whom Jesus criticizes so severely? And what have they done so wrong? To answer, we must ponder on how, in these our years, we are exposed to the risk of becoming indifferent to the events of the neighbor, being deaf to the calls which are addressed to us to participate with joy in the happy events or to suffer with those who would like to have us as neighbors in the moments of the pain. Perhaps because the various types of entertainment and the media act to inspire in us overly intense feelings, we try to defend ourselves from the excesses of emotion with a bark of indifference. Or it may be that, because the present time appears to us full of pitfalls and the future is so uncertain, we end up behaving like the hermit crab, that little bug who is on the shore of the sea, among sand and pebbles, who retracts screwed behind the first shell which is available as soon as someone touches it, as if it would be shy; or it reacts by pinching as if it would be angry. We also run the risk of “screwing” up ourselves, in the reassuring shell of our individualism, to avoid the risk to be involved in the events of the neighbor. Sometimes, we defend ourselves also criticizing the others in a vicious and bitter way, no matter what they do, to be able to distance themselves without remorse of conscience. By oscillating between indifference and merciless judgments’, we try to give us a life safe from the turmoil, but it is an illusion. Only if we accept the invitation of Jesus to love, listening and participating in the happy or said affairs of the others, we can avoid these states of apathy and depression so common today. The effort to respond to the needs and demands of the neighbor is great, but the joy which consequently follows is much more.