Chapter Talk – 14th Sunday of the Year – July 5, 2020 – cycle-A
“You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, and have revealed them to the little ones,” says Jesus (Mt 11:25). Jesus is praising his abba for revealing the mysteries of God to the little ones, that is to children. If we look at the posture of children and compare it with the posture of the so-called ‘wise and learned’, what is Jesus praising in this text?
‘Wise and learned’: those “who think they already know everything and know better. Instead Jesus was to reach those who are still ‘dependents’, that is, those inexperienced in the theology of the Scriptures….These poor have spirits that are open rather than crammed full of thousands of theories. Though they may be scorned by the learned, these are the ones God has chosen to receive his revelation” (Light of the Word, Hans Urs von Balthasar, p.106). This quote is written by the great theologian, von Balthasar, who was also a great learner, for he understood Jesus’ heart!!!! God’s revelation, the mysteries of God are not revealed to the so-called ‘learned’: we have a shift here, a reversal to our ‘normal way’ of understanding. As this gospel passage continues, Jesus will offer a different way of learning, a way of learning that is pivotal if we are to become more Christ-like in mind and heart! Parenthetically, it is a way of learning that is monastic!
The Divine voice is calling to us: “Come to me…Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart…” (Mt 11: 28-29). Our prayer: may it be to hear and receive this voice of Christ. Let his words of life speak to our hearts, hearts that are of flesh, that is, open, ready to learn in this school of the Lord, in this school of Love. The first movement asked of us is ‘to come’; ‘Come to me’, turn your whole attention to the Divine voice. Then, we hear Jesus saying further: ‘Shoulder my yoke and learn from me…’ What is the ‘yoke’ we are to shoulder and what are we to learn today?
Fr. Simeon in his scriptural commentary on this gospel passage writes: “‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me’: the kind of education intended by the Savior is not directed at an abstract doctrine or interpretation of Scripture; it is an education of the heart, and its first condition is the assuming of the yoke of obedience that establishes the disciple as suffering servant in the Suffering Servant. Only then can the disciple begin to learn…” (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, p.726). We only BEGIN to learn by taking up the ‘yoke’ of Christ, that is, the ‘yoke of obedience’. Evidently this means obedience to the will of God, obedience to the gospel way. The ‘yoke of obedience’ connects the disciple to the ‘Suffering Servant’, Christ. Fr. Simeon continues: “Yoked to Jesus, the disciple will also eat the same food Jesus eats, which is to do the will of God. Jesus and his disciple are nourished and strengthened by their obedience. ‘Make your heart like mine and join me in surrendering to our Father’” (p.726). ‘Come to me’… ‘Make your heart like mine’…This is Jesus’ invitation.
To make our heart like the heart of Jesus means surrendering to God, letting go of my will for God’s will. The heart of Christ is meek and humble, formed and shaped by his total obedience to God. ‘Come to me’: We are going to learn by connecting with Jesus’ heart…We connect to Jesus’ heart through our own heart. Then, with the posture of a learner, we are ready to be ‘educated’ in the mysteries of God…the ‘education of the heart’ in the school of the Lord is ongoing, never ending, till we die. Fr. Simeon describes the heart of Christ with these words: “In the Heart of Jesus, we discover with amazement that at the center of the Divine Being, and therefore at the very center of reality, there dwell Gentleness and Humility” (p.727). This is what we abide in when we abide in Christ. In the silent space of Divine humility and meekness, is where we are taught about the reality of Divine life. It is where we are strengthened in faith to take up the ‘yoke of obedience’. The power of God in Jesus is juxtaposed with humility and meekness. When our interior posture is that of a learner, our orientation is already humble. How often in prayer do we ask to be taught or ask to understand God’s ways? ‘Come to me…learn from me’…Daily we are invited into this space of learning…Clearly, if we give ourselves in faith to this encounter with Christ, we will learn about forgiveness, we will learn about the magnanimous heart of our God, we will learn wisdom from the One who is the wisdom of God, we will learn discernment of those dark tendencies within our hearts, we will learn more about Love, unconditional, unrequited Love…we will learn, in St. Paul’s words, about ‘power in weakness’, we will learn about the grace that flows from conversion, we will learn about true freedom of spirit, and we will be less afraid, more willing to suffer for life, for incarnating God’s life in our community.
‘Come to me….Learn from me’…does this not sound easy? Why do we resist then? Why would we refuse the invitation of Jesus? The invitation is daily. Are we that self-sufficient? Do we give that much power to our ‘ego’ and thus get pulled into the abundant murmurings of doubts, fears, criticisms of everyone and every thing? Thoughts and more thoughts, noisy thoughts, distracting thoughts. Still the Divine voice calls out: ’Come to me’…Let us, with the fresh spirit of the child, go to learn, go to learn about the mysteries of God, mysteries that are longing to be reflected in our own lives and in the lives of our sisters and brothers…Let us go to be converted, so that we can be more Christlike in heart, word, and behavior. ‘Come to me…learn from me’: in the silence of the heart these words from the Divine voice pulsate…they will never stop…’Be still my heart, listen, and go.’ Patiently, the Christ of God waits for his beloved disciple. Patiently he waits to give the wisdom of God to the one who is ready to learn from him.
Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess