Gospel Reflection for Sunday the 5th of July 2020
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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our Gospel this week begins with a prayer of Jesus to the Father; “I bless you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children”. There are two different groups of people in this prayer, the learned and the clever and mere children.
To be clever and learned are good things, these are gifts from God, so why would clever and learned people be at a disadvantage? Our own Catholic tradition has been blessed with so many intellectual powerhouses such as St Thomas Aquinas, St Edith Stein and St John Paul the 2nd to name but a few. But all of these had something in common; they loved God above everything else. When we do that, when we love God and put Him in that first place in our life, we see things as they really are. Why? Because we will have given God the most prominent place in our lives and from that prominent place the light of His love shines on our lives and helps us to see and live in reality. So John Paul 2nd, Edith Stein and Thomas Aquinas loved God above everything else and because they did they were able to see their lives in reality. They knew that everything they had been given in their lives, including their intellectual abilities, was a gift from God and because they were grounded in that reality they used this gift to glorify God and not themselves.
These are not the learned and clever people that Jesus is referring to in the Gospel. Jesus is referring to learned and clever people who do not put God in that first place in their lives. Because of this, they do not see their lives in the light of His love and so do not see their lives in the fullness of truth. So rather than seeing their intellectual abilities as a gift from God to glorify Him, they attribute these abilities to themselves and become proud. This leads to major spiritual danger because rather than relying on God, the learned and the clever person that Jesus refers to, relies on themselves, convinced that their own ability is enough to get them by. God so desires to give them the fullness of life in Him but this life remains hidden from them as they remain unable to see it because they haven’t put light of God’s love in that first and most prominent place in their lives
In contrast to the learned and the clever Jesus blesses the Father for revealing these things, the fullness of life in Jesus, to mere children. Because if the learned and the clever rely on themselves and their own ability to get them by, mere children are the opposite. The reality for a little child is that they must rely on their parents for everything. In a sense the little child lives a life of surrender because in that surrendering the child knows that they are going to be totally looked after. This is how the Lord desires us to be with Him, surrendered and trusting. St Therese of Liseaux gives us an example of this when she says imagine a little child who wants to climb up to where their Father is but is too small to climb by their own strength up to their Father. So in their helplessness before the Father the child raises its hands showing the Father their desire to be where he is and so the Father and so the Father seeing the helplessness of the child and their desire to go towards him, lowers himself, picks up the child and the child is brought to new heights that they would have been totally unable to get to by their own strength. We can’t lift ourselves up by our own strength, but when we acknowledge our total need for God He lifts us up and brings us to new heights in Him.
This is why prayer is so essential in our lives. Jesus invites us to prayer “come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest”. When we are tempted to act like the learned and the clever, tempted to think we are self-sufficient and we can go it alone, in the silence of our time alone with Jesus in prayer He teaches us to move from the clever and learned attitude to an attitude of being childlike. Jesus has the most child like heart imaginable,innocence, purity, truth, complete surrender and total trust in the Father. When we give our hearts to Jesus in prayer He moulds and shapes them to be like His own; childlike, trusting and surrendered. Lord make my heart like unto thine.
– Fr Jaimie Twohig