Of the Little Ones & God’s Way

14th Sunday Ord. Time -A

First reading
Zechariah 9:9-10 ©
The Lord says this:
Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion!
Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem!
See now, your king comes to you;
he is victorious, he is triumphant,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He will banish chariots from Ephraim
and horses from Jerusalem;
the bow of war will be banished.
He will proclaim peace for the nations.
His empire shall stretch from sea to sea,
from the River to the ends of the earth.
Second reading
Romans 8:9,11-13 ©
Your interests are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him, and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.
  So then, my brothers, there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live.
Gospel
Matthew 11:25-30 ©
Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
  ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

I HAVE been giving Gospel Reflections for almost three years now. I thank my parish priest for his trust—trust that I won’t say something that would get him into trouble with the Archbishop; to a Faithful Companion of Jesus (FCJ) sister who guided me during the early part of this particular aspect of my diaconal formation; to all the people of my parish community who gave me and continue to give me encouragement and feedback.

Childlike-FaithHowever, I am wondering what each and every one of them thought the first time they saw me come up to the ambo and heard me talking about my reflection of the readings. I am sure some would ask: “WHO IS THIS?” “WHAT GIVES HIM THE RIGHT TO SPEAK?”

These are all fair questions. Especially because we live in a particular time in human history when we put a strong link between a particular truth on the one hand and the credibility or authority of the one speaking it on the other. In a sense, we live in a culture with an “expert-mentality” when it comes to accepting truths. For example, we would be ready in accepting the opinion of scientists when they speak about global warming and its effects but we would be skeptical, at best, if we hear the same opinion coming from, say, an ordinary farmer let alone a child.

And yet we heard from the gospel that Jesus thanked God for hiding the truth about the Kingdom “from the wise and the learned” and “revealed them to little ones.” Elsewhere in the gospel Jesus told his disciples to “let the children come to me…for it is such as these that the kingdom belongs.”

From these, we can see immediately the contrast between our way; our standard and God’s way. We rely on credentials—and this is not entirely wrong. Surely, we need to expect some degree of knowledge, skills or expertise from the people carrying out specific tasks and responsibilities. The problem lies when we begin to see only the credentials and not the people. On the other hand, for God the person is the one that always matter. We look at credentials, God looks at the heart of the person.

If we think about it, God always chooses ordinary people—“the little ones” in society’s eye; even sinful people to play crucial parts in His extraordinary work of salvation. He chose Ruth—a foreigner and migrant woman to be the great-grandmother of King David who used to be a simple shepherd boy but chosen by God among his more mature and stronger brothers to become king of Israel. In the end He chose a simple girl from Nazareth to become the mother of his only-begotten Son. Jesus, in turn chose simple ordinary people—fishermen, tax collectors, activists—to be his followers. He even chose a man who persecuted his followers to be his apostle to the gentiles.

The gospel message today for each of us is that we—ordinary people as we are—can be a source of wisdom and knowledge about the Kingdom of God. For example, I worked with somebody who has a slight mental disability in my former job. One day, out of the blue he asked me if Catholics can go to confession weekly. I replied: “Yes, one can do that if that’s what the person wants.” Then he said something totally amazing: “That’s good about Catholics you can have a fresh start every week.”

JesusChildrenWe can become sources of wisdom because as we heard from St Paul in the second reading: “You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit.” Our baptism makes us the dwelling place of the Spirit of God who is the true source of wisdom. Unfortunately, we often fail to be sources of God’s wisdom and action because we become like “the wise and the learned.” We often times rely on our own “wisdom” that is too preoccupied and too interested with ourselves and put God and others in the background. The result then leads us wanting to have everything under our control and always take charge, which then become a heavy burden.

Maybe this is the reason why Jesus says “you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned [and] you have revealed them to little ones.” Children are the model disciples because they are vulnerable, open, trusting, reliant, weak, and inferior and must depend upon those with power to protect and care for them. Such reliance opens children to the revelation from God. Children model the necessary trust, dependence and reliance upon God. We can become sources of wisdom and knowledge of the Kingdom of God if we rely on God. The call of Jesus is for each one of us to become like children and to adopt the proper stance toward God and God’s kingdom. ###