Monday – September 29, 2014; Matthew 21:23-27
23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
The chief priests and the elders in today’s Gospel were worrying so much about how Jesus would respond to their answer that they lost all sight of the truth…of what they really believed…they wanted a WIN so badly that they forgot about the truth – kind of like many of the politicians today, who lost sight of the truth just so they can be on the winning side of an argument…even if they have come to believe that they choose the wrong side.
There is something to be admired in a person who sticks to his or her beliefs and is willing to defend them to the end…but that admiration ends when that person winds up arguing a position they no longer believe in, or worse, never believed in, only so they could win.
In Seminary we were often asked to choose sides in arguments, and I often took sides that I disagreed with. I did this because it was a challenge, but in the process I learned how easy it is to get caught up with idea of winning at all costs…rather than actually following what we believe. This understanding helped me to learn how to be more open-minded, enabling me to be able to consider both sides of an argument, and to accept the merits of another’s point of view, even when I did not share it. This has even caused me to change my own position at times, and allowed me to sway some to my point of view as well.
Most of all, it has caused me to see that arguing only for the sake of argument can be challenging, but in the long-run can be a useless exercise, which can only lead to hard feelings.
Sometimes as single parents, we can get caught up in useless arguments too…with our ex’s (the other parent), with people who think they know better than we do (and just might) about how to raise our kids, and of course, with our kids as well.
Sometimes we just have to pick our battles…by asking ourselves how important is it?
Are we really sticking to our convictions, acting in the best interest of ourselves and our children or are we just trying to win an argument? Sometimes it is best to just ‘let it go’ when we are fighting an uphill battle, or in a position where we just don’t want to admit we are wrong.
At other times, we are arguing over something that just doesn’t matter enough to disrupt the peace of our homes, or our families; and of course there are times when we have made our point and yet still keep trying to drive it home ad nauseam just because we can (yes, I have done this)…this can only serve to inflame an already difficult situation, no matter who we are arguing with, our children, or someone else.
In today’s Gospel, we are called by Jesus, to turn away from senseless arguments…and to see the value in finding the truth, and sincerely considering our beliefs over simply winning! Instead Jesus directs us to seek the truth, to accept the beliefs of others, and to keep an open mind, not to be like the chief priests and the elders, only seeking a way to win, to avoid looking bad in front of the crowds. In short Jesus asks us to find humility at a time when being humble can seem difficult…when we are trying to win an argument, especially one with someone who is (or was) close to us, and we are over-taken by justifiable or self-righteous anger!
When we can reach out to others in humility, even those we do not like much, or who do not like us much (at least for the moment) we are following in the footsteps of Jesus, by showing compassion for each other, compassion that will allow us to understand their point of view (even if we do not agree with it) and to remember that we are all part of the same family: parents and children, siblings, friends and loved ones…all part of the family of God…who, in the ultimate act of humility came to us as a simple traveling preacher and teacher, in order to better understand and empathize with us. This was done out of love, as a free gift of God’s grace…that same gift that calls upon us to love one another, even if we do not always agree; for in this love, shared together, the light of Christ shines through us all…transcending any disagreements we may have, and calling us all to come together as children of God.
Let us Pray:
God, thank you for reaching out to us, your children, with humility and love, through the gift of Jesus. Help us to follow his call to put aside our arguments and contention, and to treat each other with compassionate humility and the love shared with us through Christ. Let us allow the light of the resurrection shine through our actions, to heal relationships and people broken by misunderstanding and arguments…to promote peace and unity in our world and our homes.