Yesterday’s psalm refrain was “The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.” From that I asked the personal question, “Do you ever wonder if people think you are gracious, merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness?” Today’s gospel begins: “Jesus said to the crowds: To what shall I compare this generation?‘” In one sense, it is the same question just on a larger scale. And a complex question to even begin to form a response.
Which generation? The “greatest generation”, “baby boomers,” the oft-overlooked Gen-X, the millennials (Gen Y), or Gen-Z? Or gen-next. I pretty sure that each generation complains about the following generation, who points out the failing and faults of the one that came before them.
Maybe the scale of the question is larger than age demographics. When we look back far enough we are not making such fine distinctions. What about when we 21st-century Christians peer back into the mist of history at our sisters and brothers in faith? There has always been a strain of thought that held up “the early church” as the real Christians – “they got it.” These days some Catholics look back only as far as the 1950s “before the church got soft.” It reminds me of an saying: “back when the Church was Church, and we were afraid.” Not sure where that fits it with the long arc of the New Testament and love (1 John 4:7-21).
Whatever the scale of each one’s reflection, whatever conclusion one draws about generators present and past, if everyone of us in the “now” were gracious, merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness because the love of Christ compels us, that complex question of the greatest generation is easily answered.