As Christians, we are called to follow Jesus, obey His teachings, and assimilate His Wisdom and Understanding in a gradual process of spiritual transformation and growth wrought by the power of God made possible by our surrendering our will and abiding in Him, like a branch on a Vine.
To follow Jesus is to imitate Him. Whenever we struggle with what we should do in a given situation, we ponder how our Lord would respond. Asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit gives us insight and clarity on what the Will of the Father is for us in that situation.
Prophets are called by God to deliver precise messages – usually to religious leaders. That’s not the same “call” that we all receive in baptism = to at all times to “testify to the truth,” in imitation of Jesus, and to spread the news of the Kingdom by all we say and do.
Whereas some people are called to deliver messages to the “blind leading the blind” that was not the primary mission of Jesus – nor were “blind leaders leading the blind” his main audience. In this instance, Jesus “summoned the crowd” to come closer to hear His teaching; however, in most instances recounted, it is people seeking Jesus – lots of people forming ‘crowds’, not Jesus organizing public events and inviting people.
Almost invariably, encounters between Jesus and the Pharisees and Scribes were initiated by the Pharisees and Scribes, usually challenging Him and seeking to trip Him up on some aspect of the law – as is the case with today’s Gospel.
Jesus doesn’t even bother to answer them! This is important.
Notice what happens after Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees and Scribes about why His disciples are not complying with Dr. Morrison’s handwashing policy…whoops, my apologies, I meant the Jewish hand washing policy and laws:
“He summoned the crowd and said to them.”
Imitating the “mission” of Jesus requires that we discern his ‘target audience’ as we journey through our day. If we are to imitate Jesus we need to know who He spoke to, and how He spoke to them. Who he sought out, and who he avoided.
Jesus spoke in different ways to people, depending on the nature of His “audiences” – only one of which was his primary audience – the crowds.
- Jesus always spoke to the crowds in parables and riddles and sayings
- Jesus always spoke to his Apostles in plain language who he was “sharing everything He received from the Father” with them as his intimate friends, preparing them to “imitate” Him in the same mission of spreading the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
- Pharisees, Scribes, Herodians, e.g., the Jewish religious leaders were not a ‘target’ audience of Jesus, except perhaps when he flipped the tables in the temple. THEY normally sought HIM out, trying to challenge Him. He spoke to them at those times in the prophetic vein of “Woe is he who…”
They say that it is human nature to defend oneself, but Jesus was human and He didn’t do that because of His meekness and humility. He apparently “offends” the Pharisees and Scribes with his words, most likely because he ignored them except to use what they said as the basis to teach the crowds – but what Jesus said in response to what they said was not directed towards them at all, but the crowds.
Jesus used the religious leaders’ attempt to undermine Him as a “teaching moment” for the crowds. He simply let the truth of His teaching shine a light on the false teaching and ill intent of the religious leaders.
The disciples were concerned with the Pharisees being offended by Jesus’ teaching to the crowd. What Jesus said in response is powerful guidance for us today:
“LET THEM ALONE – THEY ARE BLIND GUIDES OF THE BLIND”
Jesus invokes the image of the wheat field in today’s Gospel in reference to the Pharisees and Scribes. He reminds his disciples of his parables about the good and bad wheat, growing side by side in the field until the harvest, suggesting that we need to be patient in the face of blind leaders and be smart about where we put our time and energy.
Jesus elsewhere talks about how false teachers put ‘stumbling blocks’ in the way of those under their charge, preventing them from coming to Jesus and living life in the Spirit. In today’s Gospel, when Jesus says “Blind guides of the blind,” it seems to me that He is referring more to those who, like the false leaders they follow, because they “like” false leaders because they too are not open to the truth.
The important message in today’s Gospel to me is that we are called to bring the Good News to those who will listen and are open to hearing it, but shake the dust from our feet if our message and we are not welcome and move on. As for engaging our leaders, although important at times depending on circumstances, it is not our “mission” to change people stubbornly closed to the truth and wedded to a life separate from life in the Spirit.
God will make all things right in His time. We should be rejoice that we will be “gathered” rather than “collected” when the harvest comes in!
“Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat into my barn.’ ” [Matthew 13:30]
“Jesus, help us to discern this day who we should speak with and listen to – people who are open to truth and will benefit rather than those not open to repentance and letting go of the blindness that sin brings, an inability to see your great goodness and the mercy and love you have for each one of us.
Father, give us this day our daily bread, and the meekness and humility of Jesus, so we might remain at peace in your presence as we seek to be a beacon of light and love to others in these dark and loveless days.” Amen