July 3, 2005 - Pentecost +7

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

16 Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the marketplace, about whom their companions complain: 17 'We played the flute for you but you would not dance. We sang a funeral-song but you would not cry!'

18 For John came fasting and people said: 'He is possessed.' 19 Then the Son of Man came, he ate and drank, and people said: 'Look at this man! A glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet the outcome will prove Wisdom to be right."

. . .

• 25 On that occasion Jesus said, "Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise you, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to simple people. 26 Yes, Father, this is what pleased you.

27 Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 Come to me, all you who work hard and who carry heavy burdens and I will refresh you. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. 30 For my yoke is good and my burden is light."

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible

• 25. Jesus' prayer impressed the disciples. In this text it is a short prayer, prompted by the most recent events; events and daily life are also a source of prayer.

You have hidden these things. Intelligent people are not excluded from the faith, of course, but it is the glory of God that faith should not seem to be the privilege of the wise and the intelligent; human wisdom never gives what is essential and often hides it. There were in Palestine at the time some wise people and many others who pretended to be so, but they were rarely seen among the disciples of Jesus.

Everything has been entrusted to me. God does what is needed for people to have always and in all places thousands of ways of knowing him. In this life it is only through Jesus that we have the revelation of the Father.

Must we translate "learn from me for I am…" or "learn from me that I am…"? The humility of Jesus reveals to us the humility of God who never seeks to put us down or intimidate us, but instead always wants to raise us to him. Such humility does not prevent him from being God, and he may exact everything from us because he does not use external force: his influence reaches to the depths of our heart. See Lk 10:21.

Come to me: I will not relieve you of your load but by placing my yoke on you, I give you the means of carrying the load.

Jesus plays with the two words yoke and load, for the Jews used to call "load" the divine teachings imparted to pupils, and yoke the balancing of the teacher's sentences, which should be learned by heart.

Jesus, the patient and humble teacher, enables us to see the mercy of God in our lives and in our own cross. He shows us the love of God even in the requirements of the Law. Only God is Good; and good is the authority of Christ.

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Comments from Wesley 

1. Comparisons have their place to aid the task of clarity (a high virtue or value). They give us a perspective to see something more in both sides of the comparison. Like flint and steel, comparisons spark new insight.

Comparisons are also the bane of religion when a new possibility is measured against an old certainty. This sets up a very uneven playing field in which even GOD gets lost and is not able to further repent or do a new thing.

If you were to compare these different uses of comparisons, where would you come out? Are you sparking new ideas or reining them in? 

2. It is comforting to think that Jesus has everything under control. Everything is entrusted to him. It is challenging to think that Jesus has invited us into the journey by sharing in his authority. This takes us back to Adam and issues and questions about what it means to have dominion.

A key question is how we will make decisions regarding that which has been entrusted to us. Will we build up our own reputation with a firm hand on what has been put in our hand? Will we help to reveal the presence of GOD with gentle prodings and an openness to new life growing forth past our current limitations?

3. We often speak of our interaction with the world on behalf of GOD as a burden that has been placed on our hearts. This can begin to constrict our hearts so we will only accept that which appears to be the same as ourselves. Our evangelizing ends up making more of ourselves, like the Sorcerer's apprentice made more brooms. The steps we have gone through to know as much as we do about GOD become an exacting formula for how others must journey to GOD. There is more to evangelizing than repetition of a sinner's prayer.

It is helpful to see ourselves yoked with Jesus. As he was freed to bring clarity of choice to people, so we are supported to live with gentleness in the midst of ambiguous situations. In some sense this is the final exam of religious teaching, can we apply what we have learned so far without turning it into a limit of what we might yet learn. Learning how to learn yokes us to a Living and Learning and Loving GOD. May we continue to learn how to carry and apply what we know without absolutizing it.

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