The solemn exclamation with which today’s gospel begins is one of the few prayers of Jesus reported in the gospels: “Father, Lord of heaven and earth… revealed them to simple people”. Jesus states a fact: the poor, the humble, the marginalised people are the first to welcome his word of deliverance. They feel the need of God’s tenderness. They hunger and thirst for righteousness. They are blessed because for them the kingdom of God has come.
In the second part of the passage Jesus says, “No one knows the Son except the Father… and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Knowing in the Bible means “to have a profound experience of the person.” A full knowledge of the Father is possible only to the Son. However, he may communicate this experience to anyone he wants. Who will have the right disposition to accept his revelation? The small ones, of course! As long as the
Scribes and Pharisees do not give up their attitude of being “wise” and “intelligent” people, they preclude the true and rewarding experience of God’s love.
The religion preached by these masters of Israel has transformed itself into an oppressive yoke. So, the poor not only feel themselves wretched in this world, but also rejected by God and excluded from the world to come. To these poor, lost and disoriented, Jesus addressed the invitation to be free from fear and distressing religion instilled in them. He recommends: Accept my law, the new one that is summed up in a single commandment: love of the brothers/sisters. He does not propose an easier and permissive moral, but an ethic that points directly to the essential. It does not waste energies in the observance of
prescriptions “that has the appearance of wisdom” but in reality they have no value (Colossians 2:23).
His yoke is sweet. First of all because it is his: not in the sense that he imposed it, but because he carried it first. Jesus always bent down to the Father’s will. He freely embraced it while he never imposed human precepts (Mark 7). His yoke is sweet because only those who accept the wisdom of the beatitudes can experience the joy and peace.
Finally, the invitation: “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” These are the terms that we find in the Beatitudes for those who are poor and oppressed, those who, while suffering injustice, do not resort to violence. To all these poor people of the land, Jesus says: I’m on your side, I am one of you, I am poor and rejected.
The passage of today’s Gospel is a reason for both personal and community reflection. Which God do we believe in? Is he the one of the “wise”? Or the one revealed to us by Jesus who stands by the poor.
Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
Translated by Father John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF