The Jesus Way
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 11:25-30.
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
It would seem funny that the prophet Zechariah in the first reading foresaw the Messiah riding in an ass as He comes to Jerusalem. The ass is a beast of burden but the Old Testament would portray its leaders and noblemen as riding on asses. Although if you image search on Google the animals ass and horse, the latter is certainly more appealing to us. Yet Zechariah insists that the Just Savior, the Messiah, would ride on the animal close to the culture of Israel and not on chariots and horses.
What is this leading to? It points out to us the great reversals that is quite common in the Bible. While we think that horses are grandier than asses like Ferrari’s to Jeepneys, the vision of God is the reverse of human standards. For Zechariah, the Messiah is a man of peace in contrast to leaders who ride horses and chariots to war. The Gospel today presents to us Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the peace-bringer and one who reverses our world.
There are two parts to the Gospel today. In the first part, Jesus presents Himself as the Revealer of the Father. Here, Jesus uses the absolute. The Father knows the Son and the Son knows the Father. Knowledge is the Scriptures is more than just about possessing the facts. Knowledge here means a deep relationship between two persons. We know our parents and children more than what other people know about them. That the Father and the Son know each other is Jesus’ claim to Divinity, for He claims for Himself the hidden knowledge of Yahweh. Those who accept this claim, Jesus calls the ‘little ones’, the ‘babes’, tender names He uses for His disciples.
It was the disciples, who are not professionals about the Scriptures and the legalities of the Law, that believed Jesus. Contrast these to the scribes and the Pharisees who Jesus calls the ‘wise and the learned’. The latter group already have their ideas of who God is and who the Messiah should be. Their hearts were not open and so they could not accept Jesus, nor believe His miracles, nor accept His claim. When we claim wisdom for our own, it the point when we actually lose Wisdom Himself.
The second part of the Gospel consists then of Jesus’ invitation to us. “Learn from me,” Jesus says. The way to the Father does not consist in human knowledge and effort. It is the person of Jesus. How is Jesus the way and revealer of the Father? He is “humble of heart,” and in Him we find rest in true peace. This connects exceptionally to our first reading, to Zechariah’s Messiah as bringer of peace.
To “take the yoke” means to be a disciple. Jesus is simply inviting us today to follow His person. For in the nature of His human and divine heart, the Father is revealed to us. St. Paul would say that those who are true disciples of Jesus are living in the Spirit of God who gives life. They shy away from the deeds of the flesh. Flesh for St. Paul is linked to worldliness, all that is opposite to Christ. So the Liturgy today challenges us to make a stand with Jesus the Way against the current and ideas of the world.
When today more than before we think that money, power, influence, and honor bring us lasting happiness, the Gospel presents a contrasting alternative in Jesus. As Christians we are to live like Jesus. To believe in Jesus is in itself an act of humility. To live like Jesus is an act of meekness. Jesus should be our standard and our model. He should be our selfie and our everyday hashtag.
Lastly, Jesus gives us consolation. His “yoke is easy” and his “burden light.” Because if you live Jesus, you live the Way of Love. When everything is flavored with love, life becomes sweet. Having the latest iPhone is today’s horse and chariot, but we choose to ride on the ass, the beast of burden yet the one that carries the Messiah: for in service, humility, and love we are disciples of Jesus. Think like Jesus. Live like Jesus.