JULY 18, 2009 – MATTHEW 12;14–21

 

HERE IS MY SERVANT . . . IN HIS NAME THE GENTILES WILL FIND HOPE. Jesus, as Matthew presents him, had recently proclaimed that God reveals his plans to the lowly and humble of heart. In the chapter preceding today’s reading our Lord had exclaimed in a prayer: “I give you thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and earth that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to little ones.” Today we find him the object of hostility by the wise and learned, who plot against his life, while he seeks out the common people who respond to his person and teaching. He addresses himself to those in need, by this preference he displays heartfelt compassion in a practical manner by dispensing healings. Aware that his enemies seek to put him to death, yet he continues his ministry in witness to the mercy of the Father. His courage supplies the energy for his tireless ministry to the needy. He is quite conscious of fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the chosen Servant of God of whom it stands written: “The bruised reed he will not crush; the smoldering wick he will not quench.” Jesus’ meekness is not a result of weakness, timidity, or fear, but rather an expression of reverence and compassionate concern; the humility he exemplifies and teaches derives from a strength and confidence based on God’s love for his children. He has no need to prove himself; his words and miraculous acts witness to his mission of revealing the saving power of his Father.

 

The love of God for us is a source of hope, as our Lord indicates in the final words of today’s Gospel where he cites Isaiah’s prophecy: “In his name the Gentiles will find hope.” There is a profound insight expressed in this comment on which the evangelist invites us to reflect. For hope is a condition for a truly human life and development; more, hope supplies the energy that is essential for us all to meet life as it comes with adequate confidence and efficacy. Hope supplies a vital force that animates all that is best in human activity. On the level of psychological development, as Erikson points out, “Hope is the first and most basic and yet it is the most lasting” of qualities that is invested in such other virtues as faith and industry. Its vital presence is felt at each several stage of life. Its role is modestly hidden as a rule, even when most active. Charles Peguy envisaged hope as a little girl, fragile, modest, playful, and full of life’s promise.

 

What surprises me, says God, is hope.

And I can’t get over it.

This little girl hope.

Immortal. (The Portal of the Mystery of Hope)

 

Already in its most undeveloped form hope is a seed that promises growth into wisdom if properly cultivated as life unfolds. The Chinese philosophical tradition exemplified this view of hope in the person of the sage known by the name Lao-tse, which means ‘old child’.

 

Jesus came into this world as the embodiment of the true wisdom that is eternal. When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, he was in all truth the Lao-tse, for in him the saving wisdom of the infinite God brings hope of eternal life to the darkness of a world grown old through sin. The hope that he represents in his person shone forth in his words as he grew in wisdom and strength. He revealed the hidden wisdom of God through his person, his teaching his actions.  Saint John, having spent long years reflecting on the      significance of the Lord spoke of his birth as a light shinning in the darkness, that is to say, as a beacon of hope for those who raise the eyes of their soul through faith in him as God with us.

 

Jesus then is our hope of eternal life because he is truly the light of the world. Our task is to open the eyes of our heart so that we seem him for what he truly is, the Savior, sent to bring us to eternal life with the Father. We express this hope in our Eucharistic celebration this evening. May the energy of the hope-inspiring light that is the person of Jesus ever shine before each of us and for all the scattered children of God as we follow the way that leads to the Father of lights. &      


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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