Gospel: Lk 7:24-30
When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began speaking to the people about John. And he said, “What did you want to see, when you went to the desert? A reed blowing in the wind? What was there to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? But people who wear fine clothes and enjoy delicate food are found in palaces. What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For John is the one foretold in Scripture in these words: I am sending my messenger ahead of you to prepare your way. No one may be found greater than John among those born of women; but, I tell you, the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
All the people listening to him, even the tax collectors, had acknowledged the will of God in receiving the baptism of John, whereas the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, in not letting themselves be baptized by him, ignored the will of God.
Many Christians belong to the Old Testament and imagine God as sometimes smiling at them (when they are good) and sometimes angry at them (when they commit a serious sin). For in the Old Testament practically all the authors who write it project on God their own infantile notions of a God who gets angry and then calms down, only to get angry again at his people’s next lapse.
But these depictions of God, found almost everywhere in the Old Testament (and a few times in the New Testament—bad habits die hard!) are completely wrong. God never gets angry, because by nature he cannot change. A change would imply an imperfection, and he is all-perfection. Jesus tells us of God, “the Father judges no one” (Jn 5:22), and John tells us, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8, 16). A better picture of God is found in today’s first reading. There God speaks as a fiancé eager to show his deep love for us, his people: “Your Maker is to marry you… Who could abandon his first beloved?… With everlasting love I have had mercy on you… Never will my love depart from you.” These tender declarations should forever exorcise our false notions of God.