Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church
(Isaiah 48:17-19; Matthew 11:16-19)
Freedom enables humans to choose between the good things available to them. It is not attracted by evil. Sometimes choice is made between objects that rival one another – football teams to follow or high schools to attend. St. John of the Cross chose the reform branch in the Carmelite Order over the more lax traditionalists. Surely there were positive elements in the latter group, but John thought that for him, at least, it was better to live among idealistic religious. We see a similar choice being offered in today’s gospel.
Jesus criticizes the people of his time for not taking up the call to repent their sins and trust in God. He indicates that they might have done it by following John’s strict lifestyle or by his own that gives more slack. Following either model, they would have let go of full reliance on their own prowess. They would have treated others with kindness, not a tit-for-tat rigor.
We are soon to celebrate the birthday of our Savior. How can even the strictest Christians not look forward to some material delight in honor of the One who created all things good? But whether we rejoice by singing the “Halleluiah Chorus” with full orchestra or by chanting “Silent Night” a cappella, we must remember that he came to call us out of ourselves toward an ever good and gracious God.