In Matthew’s Gospel we are faced with a people critical of both John in his ascetic living and Jesus in His ministry of hospitality and presence. Neither was “good enough” and was held suspect by the crowds.
I stand convicted of inconsistency and criticalness in my response to those around me and myself in striving to follow Christ. If someone is blessed with the energy and work that does justice, I wonder at his contemplative, interior faith life. If another is blessed with a prayerful, listening ministry, I want her to do more to change the world! If a leader is decisive and makes decisions with authority based on principle and reason, I want her to decide based on values and empathy. If a leader makes decisions based on values and empathy, I wonder about his fairness and rationale. Yes, I need Christ to break through my limited self!
Time will prove where wisdom lies and I think it will lie in finding God’s thread of love in all things. I can beg for wisdom to engage life and encounter Christ here and now in His various guises. I pray to be freed from my critical self talk and rash judgments. I pray that my own and others thoughts and efforts serve the growing Christ.
I long to live fully into Ignatius’s Presupposition 22 of his Spiritual Exercises lest I miss an encounter with a John the Baptist or Christ:
For a good relationship to develop…, a mutual respect is necessary. …And so a favorable interpretation…should always be given…. (Translation of David Fleming, S.J.)
—Janet Lehane is Assistant Director of the Spirituality Program for Adults at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH.