Just a word… Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time…

Just a word… Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time… July 5, 2020

Does it seem to you that Jesus often speaks about “the wise and the learned” in disparaging terms, as if wisdom and knowledge were not worth pursuing, or were less than desirable in the Kingdom of God? Today’s Gospel again speaks of these qualities, seemingly dismissing them in favor of the attributes of the “little ones,” referring to those of children.

Before rushing to conclusions, let us consider Jesus’ audience. They were the Pharisees, those wise and learned men who were the privileged of that society, laying heavy burdens on those not of their echelon, while enjoying the advantages their status granted them. The system of that time benefitted them; they were not in any hurry to accept a teaching that would challenge their position or weaken their hold on the people. They were not seeking truth, but were interested in cementing their own positions and authority, unwilling to open their minds and hearts to anything outside what they already knew; too busy categorizing and excluding others to see and acknowledge that all persons are beloved daughters and sons of God.

The theologian John Shea speaks of the “mysteries of the kingdom” as the ways in which the “revelation of divine love enters the human heart and transforms persons and society.” Children enjoy the flexibility of mind that is open and eager for new experiences and understandings, not being restricted by prior knowledge. Perhaps that renders their souls more open to God?

This Gospel invites all of us to share in the creative, nourishing love of God, an eligibility not determined by conforming to endless laws and regulations, but by the grace to be found in true humility, the humility of a child. Being humble does not mean slavish acquiescence to the will of another, but the recognition and acceptance of our true natures. When we are deeply centered, grounded in God, when we become the authentic persons we were created to be, we become more able to live in peace with ourselves, one another and creation. We become able to participate with God in the unfolding of the kingdom.

The pursuit of wisdom and learning are worthwhile endeavors, to which the scriptures and the living of our lives testify. It is rather, the relentless effort to fortify our beliefs and opinions that stands in the way of the acceptance of the yoke of God’s grace. Our need to replenish our spiritual batteries, to be able to rest in God’s inclusive and replenishing love, requires the flexibility and openness of a child. Jesus is not asking for us to relinquish our mature understandings of life, but to consider the mysteries of the kingdom, the graces poured out on us by the One on Whom we ultimately depend, and to rest secure in the knowledge that we are loved and cherished, like a child.

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