If we were to go over again our readings for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we might find them requesting us to do a lot of inner violence to our way of reasoning and to our conduct. This is particularly true if we accept the fact that God’s Word ought to shape all aspects of our life.
Let this suffice: if we buy into what Jesus is teaching us we might have a hard time reconciling it with conventional ways of reasoning and with what seems reasonable and moderate. Actually, if so far, we have tried to be serious about our Catholic faith, we might have already reached the conclusion that pages of the Gospel like this one are in conflict with the social system that craves accolades, promotions, praises, prestige, power and concrete results at any cost. However, this is nothing new.
From this standpoint, if we look at the first half of the Bible we get the distinct impression that it took God the entire Old Testament “to wean” His people away from conceiving Him as so terrifying in His majesty that any member of His chosen people would have died by daring to draw close to Him. And, at the same time, He was conceived undisputedly as the fierce router of Israel’s enemies.
It took many centuries of self-revelation to go from: “The LORD, a mighty warrior, the LORD, mighty in battle.”(cf. Psalm 24:8) to giving the order to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors (cf. Matthew 5:44).
From “the God whose chariots were myriad, thousands upon thousands” (cf.Psalm 68:18) to being a totally different type of king:
“Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, Meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.(cf. Zechariah 9:9).
The contrast is more striking if we compare the extremes of the two Testaments: from a God ready to display all His might, His glory and from a God who can punish a crime down to the third or fourth generation to the shocking, incredible statement made by Jesus in the Gospel of John:
So Jesus said (to them), “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” John 8:28
When Jesus is raised high on the cross, totally immobilized, totally powerless, totally divested even of the last vestige of dignity we will realize that he is God. (I AM is God’s name!) We will realize that God is truly Love.
Confronted by these contrasting statements we find ourselves completely wrapped in mystery. So, my dear friends in Christ welcome to the realm of faith! So, my dear friends in Christ, experience the darkness in which our minds and hearts find often themselves.
Our nature, our innate instinct and, most clearly, this world urge us to make the choices that open up possibilities for glory, grandeur, power, control, dominion and the vanquishing of our enemies. However, Jesus, our God in human flesh, orders us to learn the way of love from him who is meek and humble of heart. However, Jesus, our God in human flesh, tries to convince us that his yoke is easy and his burden light.
He is saying this while the cross that we are expected to carry, especially in these very trying times, seems to be sapping away all our remaining energies. We are torn. We might have been torn for a long time. And, worse yet, we sense that we are not getting anywhere: we love Jesus; we claim to be his; we profess that we shall follow his teachings; yet our instinct along with the instinct of a multitude of people, and the whole world invite us to go with the flow and choose the path that makes more sense and seems much safer.
My dear fellow believers, the intent of the Church in offering these readings to our consideration today, is not to get us to be totally disoriented, but so that we may learn to live with a basic sense of inadequacy, of honest search for answers, of spiritual poverty, of need for light, of a humble waiting for the divine revelation that might set us on the right path to the Kingdom.
This is basically what it means to be the “little ones.”
We labor and are burdened not only by what life dishes out to us on a daily basis, but also by our inability to dispel the cloud shrouding so many aspects of life on this earth. Those who might have the hardest time to accept this are those who see themselves as problem fixers, even as “mini saviors.” But they too must be numbered with us among the little ones.
We all ought to learn from Jesus who is meek and humble of heart. We too need to love by walking in the light from above. If, in the light of the Holy Spirit, we long to be numbered among the little ones, I am confident that the Lord will reveal to us the mysteries of the Kingdom. I believe that these mysteries are not such because they are difficult to comprehend but, rather, because it is so hard to embrace them wholeheartedly and live by them.
As the Lord continues to reveal to us heavenly mysteries, he will include also the mystery of a grain of wheat. It is the mystery that would reshape our life completely. As, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we learn to be humble, self-effacing, unassuming; hence, we can become convinced that we shall bear fruit of love and joyous service to others only if we are willing, like a grain of wheat, to fall to the ground, rot and die to bear abundant fruit.
This revelation would also convince us that sufferings, any type of suffering from which we so instinctively recoil, if embraced in union with Christ, acquires the same infinite value of his sufferings! This would indeed be a super revelation that can change the world and turn it into the new earth envisioned and promised by our God.