December 9, 2022
The philosopher Heraclitus once said that “no one steps in the same river twice” and that “the only constant thing is change”. Apparently he never heard of the people Jesus decries in the Gospel today who would not dance to the flute or would not cry to a funeral song. He could have been talking of the scribes and Pharisees. He could have been talking of the crowds he often deals with. Or he could be talking of you and me.
It is so easy to agree with Heraclitus. But the fact is, it is so hard to change. Smokers find it hard to give up smoking despite the overwhelming medical evidence of the harm it causes. Alcoholics behave likewise. Sinners, above all, find it hard to even accept their sins, let alone renounce and repent of them and then live virtuously. Psychologists speak of “confirmation bias” to refer to the tendency in human beings to accept and welcome only information or ideas that confirm their own already held values, ideas and beliefs. Even Jesus goes through people’s confirmation bias in our Gospel. Many refuse to listen to him or follow his teachings. In fact, they would later renounce him and join the “crucify him” cries of his enemies even after having heard him preach powerfully or work stupendous miracles that not only held them in awe but also in praise of God. When Mary asks visionaries and those who hear them to “pray and do penance” for the “conversion of sinners,” is she not telling us believers that only God’s action can truly penetrate people’s hardened hearts and minds, and change them in the direction of the Gospel and doing his will?
Do the people in Jesus’ time continue to exist in the people of our time, including in you and me? What hinders us from truly repenting and believing in the Good News?
Recall instances when you experienced going back to the same sins or vices all over again.
Thank and glorify God for those little or big vices that you have conquered or overcome–even just for a time.