Matthew 11: 25-30
As I write this reflection, I am very aware of the many parts of the world where thousands of innocent people are grieving for the tragic and sudden loss of their loved ones. Ceremonies and prayers for the dead are constant factors for those in Ukraine, Gaza, Israel, Syria and other areas of tragedy and conflict. ‘May the dead rest in peace and may the living strive for true peace. Amen.’
The Gospel reading for ‘All Souls’, Matthew 11:25-30, follows on from Jesus’s lament over the lakeside towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, and his condemnation of those who have rejected the values of Christ’s kingdom. The pride and hostility of the chosen people leads Jesus to condemn them to hell (Gehenna) and to praise the gentiles from Sodom, Tyre and Sidon.
(How far does pride and hostility between people destroy God’s kingdom?)
In Mt. 25 –27; the tone changes to a more formal, almost liturgical statement which some scholars think comes from an Aramaic tradition, perhaps a hymn. The ‘Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture’ states that Jesus’s words are rich in the traditions of the Old Testament: sapiential (wisdom of the Father through the Son), apocalyptic (revelation through Jesus) and prophetic (‘mere children’ will know and understand that the Son conveys God’s message fully). It is a bold assertion from Jesus which confirms the ‘oneness’ of God the Father and Jesus the Son. But what is unwelcome news to many of his listeners, ‘the learned and clever’ is that it is ‘mere children’ who will become wise, able to understand and witness to God’s kingdom.
(How can we maintain ‘the child within’ so that God’s revelation is clearer to us?)
The last part of this reading, Mt 11: 28-30; is probably one of the best-known gospel extracts (only cited in Matthew). Having shocked his listeners by asserting that the good news has been, is being and will be revealed to ‘the simple’, Jesus offers an open invitation to those ‘who labour and are burdened’. God, through Christ, is saying ‘Come to me’ to anyone who ‘needs rest’. What has happened to the special guarantees assumed by the Scribes and Pharisees? Thay appear to have gone. Anyone willing to take up the ‘yoke’ offered by Jesus, will have an easier time. Jesus’s ‘new yoke’ is not burdened by the legalism of Jewish Law. ‘Mere children’ will learn from Jesus about being ‘gentle and humble of heart. This is good news for all. It is not exclusive to the so-called wise and learned.
(Am I willing to carry Jesus’s ‘yoke’ in ‘gentleness and humility’ like a child every day?)
‘The Commemoration of All the Faithful departed’ on 2 November is closely associated, in my mind, with ‘All Saints’ celebrated the day before. I recall especially over those two days the living and the dead in my family as well as friends and others. The gospel reading reminds us of God’s openness to all who follow the path (yoke) shown by Christ. That invitation ‘Come to me’ is surely relevant to the living and the dead who wish to be part of God’s kingdom. God knows who is really ‘gentle and humble of heart’ and truly willing to off-load the weariness and burdens so as to enter that kingdom. We pray most of our formal prayers ‘through Christ Our Lord…’ On ‘All Souls’ the ‘Alleluia verse’ quotes Jn 6:39 ‘it is my father’s will that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me…’
All are invited!
Matthew 11: 25-30
At that time Jesus said in reply, “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.”
Meet Sister Maureen Lomax , SNDdeN