Reflection on Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30 (Trinity 5; Proper 9, Year A)

A reflection for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 9 July 2023, on Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30 (Proper 9, Year A)

Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30

At that time Jesus said, ‘To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.” 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, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. 

‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 

‘All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’


Jesus said: To what will I compare this generation?

Every day we make comparisons. We ask ourselves whether we are doing or saying the right thing; whether we are wearing the right clothes; whether we are eating the right food; whether we are driving the right car? The growth of social media has brought about a growing obsession with getting it right as we constantly make comparisons with those ‘influencers’ whose profession is to inform the decisions we make. But, and this is an important question, why are we comparing ourselves with all those self-styled influencers?

From the very beginning of time, the account of creation we find in the first chapters of Genesis, we see what happens when we fail to follow God’s path, when we allow ourselves to be swayed by a smooth-tongued influencer. As with the story of the fall of Adam and Eve, so the rest of human history has been littered with mistakes. These mistakes are often brought about by the comparisons we make with others, and the wrong decisions that followed on from those comparisons.

In the incarnation of Jesus we witness God recalibrating his relationship with humanity. Jesus’ earthly life and death, and his triumphant resurrection, continue to provide us with the opportunity to set aside the false wisdom of our fellow human beings, and to allow ourselves to be influenced by the model of love and service we see in Jesus.

Our comparisons cause anxiety and grief. In today’s reading Jesus invites us to leave those burdens with him as we go forward in faith, being influenced by his gentleness and humility alone. Let us pray for the strength and the wisdom to do just that.