Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Revealed to the Childlike

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Matthew 11:25-27

The Collect for Week 15
O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray, so that they may return to the right path, give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and to strive after all that does it honor. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Over the past two Sundays, the setting for Luke’s Gospel has taken place in a parallel version as today’s Gospel context emerges from Matthew.  Jesus has just sent the disciples out on their mission.  They are following his instructions.  There is no doubting Thomas.  There is no denying Peter.  There is not bickering James and John.  Is it any wonder Jesus prays with such happiness?  His plan is coming together. Maybe that cup will pass him by, maybe?

As the notes in the New American Bible explain, “These verses introduce a joyous note into this section, so dominated by the theme of unbelief. While the wise and the learned, the scribes and Pharisees, have rejected Jesus’ preaching and the significance of his mighty deeds, the childlike have accepted them.”

Acceptance is not a subject of free choice.  Acceptance is a condition of our condition.  We have to let go of our adult concerns and put on childish ways. From that demeanor, we are ready (open) to the Father to reveal himself to us. If we are arrogant, haughty or self-absorbed, we will not have ready. Jesus wishes that we are ready.[i]

This is opposite of what Paul requires in his letter to the people of Corinth.  Paul says we must put away childish ways.  Not Jesus.  Jesus reveals these truths to only those whom he decides to share.  That must mean that Jesus plays favorites.  No?

No.  Jesus rests his favor on those who listen to him.  We started this week with the story of the Good Samaritan.  It is a parable that probably everyone knows.  Like the Samaritan, we are invited to place our trust in God as we respond more and more deeply to the invitation of Jesus to be his disciples in service to the community.  The NAB notes that “Being his disciple means being connected with him by a bond stronger than any other bond in our life - one which may set us at odds with others. Seeking self-fulfillment will always be frustrating and unattainable. Letting go of ourselves for Jesus' sake brings a fulfillment beyond our imagining.”

We do not develop such a bond because we are smarter than others or more pious than others or do more “action” than others.  We develop the closer bond by putting on child-like innocence and following Jesus like a trusting child.

It will not be long until the Pharisees and Sadducees challenge Jesus at every step along the way for eating grain.  For curing the man with the withered hand.  But for now, rejoice and be glad for the Kingdom of God is being built at hand. By hand.  By the child-like who listen and hear just like St. Benedict instructs.   

Over at the Creighton University Online Ministries, they pose a critical question.  How can we find such intimacy with God in the midst of our busy lives, while reflecting on our discipleship?

This is not a riddle that goes unanswered.  The writer suggests that the solution is achieved by “letting these precious messages of Jesus to us settle into our hearts. If we really hear them, they will become a part of us this week. It doesn't take much time; just more focus.”

Focus this week on becoming more Childlike. Listen for the whispers of Christ to his children.   

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