Its amazing how sometimes so few words can say so much. Jesus very efficiently calls out how people like to dismiss himself and John the Baptist, but quickly turns it around on the critics.
For living a life of austerity, self-denial – John the Baptist is accused of having a demon. For not doing so and eating with people deemed of being “unclean” “questionable” – Jesus is called a drunkard and a glutton. In both cases, these critics want to maintain the status quo. They want God’s word to conform to their comfortable existence. They want their political power to be maintained – they want their authority to be unchallenged.
Jesus remains undeterred. Interestingly, He who so often reveres and rejoices in children uses an aspect of them – negatively towards these religious authorities. Immaturity is understandable, even somewhat admirable in children as we appreciate their naivete. It’s less so in religious officials who spout off as they do.
The Gospel should make us uncomfortable. We are called both to self-denial and to align ourselves with those who are most marginalized, threatened, vulnerable. That is just as popular now as it was 2000 years ago. It invites the scorn of those who are popular in society, in the world and can even, sadly, be as unwelcome with some of those in the Church.
But in the end, it’s about what matters in the end. About our ultimate union with God, about our transformation in Christ, about our bringing His justice, His mercy, His sanctity into the world – not cowering in fear or intimidation when anyone in authority tries to bully people into submission. Recognizing that following Christ is of far greater urgency than to any of the dead ends we find the flute players and dirge singers of our day and age are trying to lead people down.