A method to the madness – Wednesday, 15th Week in ordinary time – Matthew 11:25-27
Today we hear a thanksgiving prayer from the very lips of Jesus. We tend to turn to the Father in thanksgiving only when we have received something we desired or fervently petitioned for. Yet Jesus’ thanksgiving to the Father comes in the face of his rejection and that of his mission. We know from scripture, that the cities that Jesus preached to and worked miracles in, would not repent (11:20-23). The people to whom Our Lord ministered to were perpetually ungrateful; they would not mourn even if a dirge was sung nor dance when the flute was player (11:17-18).
People who teach the skills in the art of staying positive need to take a leaf out of Our Lord’s life. In the face of such rejection, Jesus does not walk away, rather he says a prayer of thanksgiving. In the face of hostility, he sees the plan of God. He is not consumed by the negativity that his mission receives but rather sees that God had a method to this apparent madness.
The text of today has two parts; a prayer of thanksgiving for the revelation of God (verses 25&26) and then we are given the content of that revelation (verse 27). Tomorrow’s text has an invitation that is extended as a result of this revelation. It consists of those ever-loved words of Jesus, “come to me all you who labour and are overburdened.”
For now, let us focus on the prayer of thanksgiving and the revelation made. The thanksgiving is not for some super achievement. It is a thanksgiving to God for the way He works. We are told that his plan is not revealed to the wise and the learned. That should not lead one to falsely assume that God is opposed to scholars and scholarship. For the message of God to sink into our hearts, we have to place our human learning aside and become students in God’s university of simple surprises. Think about it, Our Blessed mother in her prayer of thanksgiving too, thanks God for having chosen her, the lowly handmaid. God routed the powerful for their arrogance but he raised the lowly and filled them with good things. That is the first lesson we take away from today’s text.
But to this prayer of thanksgiving is added the secret itself. God reveals his top-secret plans and he gives Jesus the honour to ‘reveal’ it. “ALL things have been handed to me by my Father,” says Jesus, “no one knows the son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the son and anyone to whom the son chooses to reveal him.”
God handed over to his son Jesus, ALL things; not some things. It is in the power of Jesus to give all things that we need. It is for this reason that tomorrow’s text begins with the words “come to me.” Does this take away the important role that God the creator plays in our lives? Does he stop functioning as a loving father? Not at all. Because the Father hands over all things to Jesus that does not mean he as Father can’t also hand things to us. But now like Mary, he gently nudges us to go to his Son. Our Blessed Mother said, “do whatever he asks you” and those thoughts seem to resonate in the revelation of God to us, through Jesus.
But Jesus also has the intimate knowledge of God as Abba. The God of the Old Testament was rendered nameless because his name could not be taken in vain or just about any time. The God of the Old Testament was feared and held in awe as if he was distant from his people.
Jesus knows the father and he calls him ABBA. He shares with us that intimate knowledge of the Abba he knows. Yet this is not some mutual admiration society that Jesus and God the Father are exclusive members of. This deep knowledge of who God is, was meant to be shared and that knowledge is shared by Jesus.
Is this knowledge of the Father meant for all? No! Jesus makes this very clear. While this knowledge could be for anyone the decision to reveal it is left with Jesus alone. It is for this reason that the next verse which we will study tomorrow begins with the words, “come to me.”
Yet we may choose to reject that call of Jesus but by doing that we reject the way to Father. “NO ONE can come to the Father”, says Jesus, “except through me.” (John 14:6)