Teeth Set On Edge
Pope Francis noted in 2015 that we are living not in an ‘era of change, but change of era.’
This was exactly the case with the Jewish people during their time of exile. They were forced out of their homes and land, not to return for at least 70 years.
The prophets Ezekiel (18) and Jeremiah (31) lived and wrote at this time. They both cite an interesting, traditional, proverbial saying:
The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.
The prophets are attempting to get the people of Israel to take personal responsibility.
Corporate responsibility was certainly a welcome characteristic of the Jewish community, but not at the expense of personal accountability.
Both prophets want change. They want the proverbial saying banished from the vocabulary of the people.
Any change is difficult, and if we are honest, we usually want change on our own terms. But this attitude leads to personal diminishment, since change is essential for human maturity.
What might guide the emotional, moral, human and spiritual changes we are called to make?
It is generally accepted that the New Testament contains a number of hymns – perhaps forms of poetry – that the early Christians sang in praise of Christ and his mystery.
Philippians 2 contains a classic Christological hymn that dramatises the death and resurrection of Christ.
And well it might, since it details the most challenging and difficult change we shall undergo – death.
And it proclaims the most wonderful, glorious change we shall undergo – resurrection.
Looking back, can we see that the best changes we have made have this pattern?
That is, the best of changes have involved dying and death, and then resurrection. Something within us had to die and something had to rise, creating new life.
Looking forward, can we foresee that the changes that will need to be made in the journey ahead will have this pattern of dying, death and resurrection, too?
No need, then, for ‘our teeth to be set on edge.’
Change is not only a constant, but a welcome friend.
For being baptised into Christ’s death and resurrection, we have change deeply imbedded within us.
Change, then, is really a partnership between us and the Lord.