JULY 19, 2006 - Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16; Matthew 11:25-27
I PRAISE YOU, FATHER, LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, FOR WHAT YOU HAVE HIDDEN FROM THE LEARNED AND THE CLEVER YOU HAVE REVEALED TO THE MEREST CHILDREN. These words of our Lord are among those that best reveal his inmost dispositions. They are a key that opens to us the understanding of his character, in that they portray the way he viewed people and life with the eyes of his heart. At the same time, he makes this disclosure with a prayer of praise to his heavenly Father. In this way he reveals both the Fatherís hidden wisdom and the love he has for those who are little in their own eyes. These words of our Lord are at once a revelation and an invitation to become trusting and confident toward the Father as little children are to their parent. That St. Matthew intends this way of reading our text is very clear from the context in which he places it, for after pronouncing this brief prayer of praise to the Father for his concern for the little ones, he presents our Lord as inviting us all to take him as an example by saying :"Learn from me for I am meek and gentle of heart." It is not surprising, then, that this saying of Jesus came to be associated with devotion to his Sacred Heart and that these few verses of the Gospel are proclaimed on the Feast that honors that Heart which was pierced for us on the cross..
We are, then, not only to honor our Lordís devotion to the Father and his concern for the little ones of the earth, we are to imitate him in these dispositions, putting into practice what we learn from his example and teaching. The first lesson here is to realize that God shows he is a Father to us by revealing through his son the care he has for us as persons; his concern does not depend on being distinguished by reason of special gifts or education. It is enough simply to acknowledge Him as Father in trusting faith to be given that knowledge which surpasses all merely human learning and cleverness. St. Paul provides further authority for this insight into Godís mind and his ways. "The human race has nothing to boast about to God. But you, God has made members of Christ Jesus and by Godís doing he has become our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness, and our freedom." (1Cor :29,30) This wisdom is more than knowledge; it is a saving communion in transcendent truth. It is not discovered by the reductive methods of science and by human reasoning. That is the very point our Lord makes in this prayer of praise to his Father. Already in the Old Testament, there were prophets and wise men who had some degree of insight into the kind of knowledge that is at once hidden and transcendent and of which God alone is the source. His pleasure is to reveal it through his works and by his grace to those who fear him. We read in Ben Sirach that "All wisdom is from God and abides with him forever. Wisdom was created before all things and understanding of prudence is from eternity."(1:1,4)
The most meaningful favor a father bestows on his children is affirmation of their own self-worth, along with an understanding of their purpose in life and dedication to realizing it in practice. This knowledge is of a most personal kind; it is imparted by daily contact that is at once protective and affirmative of the unique personality of the child. The father provides a sense of security and confidence by communicating through his presence and his manner the personal worth and value of his offspring. At the same time, he provides appropriate space for the child to find his own way and manner of realizing the latent potential still hidden within. This kind of experience is internalized as a practical, lived knowledge that is felt as a vague, general sense of worth and trust that life is good and has a meaning that one shares in. At some point of time this unthematic, pervasive sense that one takes for granted and to which little if any direct attention is given, assumes more specific outlines. As it becomes more identifiable, this sense of value and meaning emerges as a revelation within the inner self that gives personal assurance of worth and of purpose. One is free to assent to this revelation as to a call, a vocation that gives concrete form to the desires and aspirations that are most personal and in which a person engages the very self so as to participate personally, deliberately and freely in completing the life given by its creator.
However small and insignificant we may be in our own eyes and in the estimate of others, it is for such as these that Jesus gives thanks to his heavenly Father. For it is the lowly and the meek to whom God reveals the mystery of his love and declares it openly through the heartfelt words of Jesus, his Son and our Savior.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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