14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. –Matthew 11:25-26
Children are among the most delightful creatures on earth. The birth of a child brings great happiness to the family. Every family member awaits with joyful anticipation the first giggle, the first word, the first step of the new addition to the clan. The excitement often extends to the larger community of friends and acquaintances. During these times of the pandemic, children continue to play and laugh and give the parents the courage and the strength to find ways to survive.
What is most attractive in the child is the look of innocence which includes an openness to be taught new concepts, values, and practices. Once the child firms up his or her own beliefs, principles, and values he or she often closes towards insights that are contrary to the ones being held. When this happens, the child becomes an adult who rather than desiring to be taught, wants to teach instead, rather than being influenced, chooses to be an influencer. The negative emerges in an adult who is afflicted with egoism, excessive self-centeredness that drives him or her to labor for self-interest to the point of hurting others.
Childhood may not always refer to one’s number of years. It may also imply the willingness to listen, to be taught, to be swayed to certain directions like a ship powered by the wind, despite being advanced in age. This is the childhood referred to by Jesus when he praised the Father for hiding things “from the learned and the clever and revealing them to the merest children.”
God’s children, brothers and sisters of Jesus, are those who listen to Jesus’ teachings and live by them. They are the ones who, rather than filling themselves and their egos with the things of the world, use the things of the world in order to build a world of love, of service, of caring for one another. Instead of building their own kingdom based on greed, God’s children build the Kingdom of God. Building God’s Kingdom based on justice, charity and universal brotherhood is the same as ‘living in the Spirit’ mentioned in the second reading.
Indeed, living in the Spirit can sometimes be burdensome because it requires giving up what the ego demands – comfort, self- aggrandizement, power, accumulation of wealth, and the things which we human beings long for. It implies living a life of simplicity, service, and self-giving. However, Jesus assures us in the Gospel that, although it may appear difficult, following him through the life of the Spirit by carrying his yoke, can be easy because he carries it with us. God’s grace will ease the burden of living a truly Christian life. We shall never be afraid.