SFX Bulletin, 06 July 2014: What are the “things” (Mt.11:25) that Jesus thanked God for? Why was Jesus even thankful when there seemed to be a “prejudice” that God had “hidden” some things from “the learned and the clever” but revealed them to “mere children”?
From the section before this passage, we realize that the “things” Jesus was referring to were the saving truths needed to enter God’s Kingdom. The central truth rested on Jesus’ identity as mediator and the fullness of God’s revelation (cf. CCC65). In other words, Jesus is God’s definitive savior for the world and no other messiah was to be expected. God authenticated this revelation by giving Jesus the power and authority in his teaching, preaching and healing (cf. Mt. 8&9 where nine miracles were recorded including the healing of a leper, the centurion’s servant and exorcisms). However despite these miracles and Jesus’ profound wisdom, there was still widespread disbelief in Jesus’ identity as Son of God. Jesus attributed proud self-adoration of being “learned and clever” as the obstacle to God’s loving outreach.
Here is also where we find Jesus’ reason to praise God. Despite the disbelief and ingratitude of many, our creator God does not give up on the human race. In fact, He continues to sustain all men in the hope of their conversion, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Mt.5:45).
Called into the church where the miracle of the Eucharist is worked for us everyday, then as now, God invites us to believe in Jesus. While many of us today are “learned and clever” because of education, we must be mindful not to let our human erudition lead us to reject God. Rather, an openness to the divine, rooted in a sound intellect that seeks truth helps us to enjoy being “mere children” of an amazingly loving Father. St. Augustine would say, “Understanding is the reward of faith…seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand”.
This humble creatureliness will enable us to welcome Jesus’ offer of “rest” in its proper context. The proud may dismiss Jesus’ offer of “rest” as a ruse. Afterall, how can “rest” be authentic if there is still a “yoke” and “burden” albeit an “easy yoke” and “light burden”? Only those who have truly “laboured” for moral perfection and the repentant who have been wounded by the “burden” of guilt and shame can welcome Jesus’ “easy yoke” and “light burden” because they have discovered that God alone gives growth and God alone can forgive (cf.1 Cor.3:7; Lk.5:21).
If we accept Jesus’ yoke, we bind ourselves to him. Just as a pair of oxen are yoked to each other to share a load, Jesus wants to help us in our “labour” towards the spiritual and help carry the burden of “misdeeds” should we falter. This laboring and the burden of faltering is part and parcel of the spiritual life. However, we can and will get better at it with perseverance as St. Paul urged the Romans, “there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives…but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live” (Rom. 8:13).
Being yoked is not something we generally welcome. We love our freedom. However, in choosing to be yoked to Jesus, we will learn to properly use our freedom and become truly liberated. We will neither oppress others or allow ourselves to exchange our dignity to become oppressed. Trusting in God’s power to liberate – even from death – as He proved by Jesus’ resurrection, we need have no fear of anything. Most of all, to be yoked to Jesus is to also become one with God. In the number of times that Jesus addressed God as “Father” in his prayer, he revealed a great theological truth – that he is the revelation of the Father and he and the Father are one. These “things” – being yoked to Jesus and sharing in the life of the Trinity - is what Jesus offers anew to us today. May we accept his offer of love and life and find rest for our souls (cf. Mt.11:30).