Our Lord Jesus was often criticized for His actions because other people did not understand why He did what He did or simply did not like what He did. He was criticized by the scribes (Mt. 9.1-8) and the Pharisees (Mt. 9.9-13), and in this passage, He was being criticized by John the Baptist’s disciples: Why were Jesus’ disciples not fasting as often as the other pious people? Jesus’ response was that we should be sensitive to changes over time and take appropriate actions rather than blindly follow traditions to earn public approval.
As parents, we often do not fully understand why the next generation hasn’t been following the old traditions that we have been observing faithfully. We lament and blame moral corruption brought on by postmodern times. However, Jesus’ comment here seems to be reminding us to observe actions more deeply and discover the motivation behind these actions to understand how they may actually be new ways of complying with old instructions.
Criticism may stem from malicious intentions or innocent enquiry. However, all criticism creates disturbances in our hearts. There are things parents often do not comprehend about the new generation: their fashion attire; their way of doing things; how they deal with friends of different ages; the attitudes they have about the Internet; how they respond to today’s discussion on moral standards; their ecological concerns; etc. There are many things parents can learn about the next generation and the reasons for these changes. Love for our children must be expressed in words and deeds that they can properly understand.
New wine should be poured into new wineskins if we want to avoid bursting the wineskins and spilling the wine. Likewise, let us be sensitive to the hearts of the next generation and appreciative of the new ways of doing and living so that Christ’s purposes may be preserved.
- What are some behaviors you’ve seen in your children that you find irritating? Have you spent time considering the rationales behind these behaviors?
- Have you spent time listening to the music your children listen to in order to better understand the hearts of these artists?
Written by Rev. Michael Wu. Artwork by Jasmine Chan