5th Sunday After Pentecost: The Wisdom of Infants

Justice is coming, breaking down hierarchical barriers. Mercy is coming, welcoming in the outcast.


“For Martin Luther King came marching and preaching, and you said, ‘He is an enemy of the state,” and Colin Kaepernick knelt in silence, and you said, ‘He is disrespecting our flag.’” These may not be the exact words of Jesus, but they’re an eye-opening modern translation. For the fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Adam and Lindsey read Matthew 11:16-19 and 25-30.

Jesus’s opening words are strange. This generation is like a bunch of dissatisfied children who didn’t get what they expected. What does this mean?

In Jesus’s time, men marked festivities by playing the flute and dancing. Women would lead ritual mourning at funerals. Children learn by imitation. So children playing in the marketplace are learning how to live in the world by imitating the roles of the adults around them.

But something is going wrong. The rituals are breaking down.

Children see what happens on the surface, and it takes time for them to learn all the meaning behind it. Jesus sees this generation responding to their rituals breaking down with no deep understanding of why.

What’s happening? A few verses ahead we see, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news.”

Justice is coming, breaking down hierarchical barriers. Mercy is coming, welcoming in the outcast.

It’s shaking up the order of things, and people don’t know what to do.

Equality can seem threatening when you’ve always found your identity over and against others. Those threatened by the inauguration of justice will find one reason or another to denounce or demonize the heralds of justice. They did that to John the Baptist and Jesus, for opposite reasons. They did that to King and Kaepernick, too.

But Jesus says the wisdom of God has been revealed to infants. He’s not talking about age. The marginalized and oppressed, experiencing and expressing the love of Jesus, understand the truth that conventional “wisdom” gets wrong: our infinite worth is found not in measuring ourselves over and against others but in living with and for others.

This is the wisdom of infants because it’s still so new to us. Even 2000 years after Christ, we are still learning how to live not by rivalry and competition, but by love and cooperation. We are still growing into this wisdom. Come and listen and share your wisdom as we grow together in the new life of love that Jesus opens.

The Olive

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