Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel text for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. In the Gospel Jesus talks about God’s relationship from different perspectives. Can you take time to talk with God about that part of this Gospel that invites you into a deeper relationship with God, yourself, and others?
The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here Franciscan Gospel Reflection July 9 2023. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photo: Jesus and the Children, Holy Family Convent Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
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 the childlike. 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.”
The first part of this text, verses 25-27, is also found in Luke’s Gospel. (Luke 10:21-22) Therefore, scholars believe that it comes from an earlier source that both Luke and Matthew used as they composed their Gospels. The style of the text is different from that found in most of the synoptic Gospels. It is similar to the prayerful texts found in John’s Gospel. The second part of this text is unique to Matthew.
In the second half of last week’s Gospel Jesus spoke of the rewards for those who receive the apostles that Jesus sent to proclaim the reign of God. In the last verses, he referred to those apostles as “little ones.” “Whoever gives only a cup of water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” In today’s Gospel Jesus describes true wisdom not being revealed to the wise and learned but to the childlike. Later in the Gospel Matthew will record Jesus instructing that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven one must “turn and become like children. (Matthew 18:3)
The religious leaders of the day were believed to be those who had studied and were considered authorities on their religious history and tradition. They prided themselves on their knowledge and interpretation on what was required to maintain a solid relationship with Yahweh. Their understanding led to a belief that one needed to maintain daily rituals that few could maintain.
Jesus for his part recognized the impossible burden that religious leaders of his day placed upon people if they desired to live faithfully as God’s people. Jesus calls people to see the loving and merciful God of the covenant whose burden is light by contrast to that of the religious leaders of his day. The religious leaders for their part reject Jesus’ teaching and see him as a threat to authentic religious heritage.
- Take some time to make two lists side by side. On one, list the qualities of the wise and clever, and on the other list the qualities of the childlike. Can you recall moments in your life when the qualities of one side seemed to dominate your relationship to God?
- Jesus describes his relationship with the Father as intimate and exclusive. How do you respond to this description?
- What are the burdens of your life? What are the burdens in your relationship with God?
- What happens within you when you praise God?
- Jesus talks about God as having “hidden these things from the wise and the learned,” yet revealing them to “the childlike.” How do you find yourself responding?
- In the Gospel Jesus invites everyone to come to him and take on his yoke. How do you find yourself responding to his invitation?
- In the Gospel Jesus talks about God’s relationship from different perspectives. Can you take time to talk with God about that part of this Gospel that invites you into a deeper relationship with God, yourself, and others?