Fourteenth Sunday, Year A, 9 July, 2023: Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30
In a culture that valued scholars who studied God’s word, Jesus teaches a subversive opinion: Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to little ones.
That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with learning or wisdom; Jesus himself exhibits a knowledge of the scriptures both broad and deep. Perhaps it’s significant that Jesus quotes the Psalms more than any other book—scripture as worship, not as research. His learning is organic, personal and experiential, rather than scholarly, systematic and abstract. Knowledge that just remains information—or is purely conceptual—is not enough.
What Jesus says is very challenging: to replace learning with a pietistic, legalistic, unquestioning attitude would be more childish than refreshingly child-like. No different from the scholar who believes he has all the answers, the individual who never thinks things through, ignores questions or denies doubts, is also closed minded and needs no revelation from God that might upset familiar prejudices.
Jesus admits that what he has to offer is a burden and a yoke, not an escape from intellectual inquiry but a responsibility to apply what we’ve been given. A yoke harnesses the strength of an ox to the direction of another to accomplish a job. Aren’t we being invited to harness our capacities to God’s direction? Isn’t that a call to be open and responsive to God, to be surprised by God? Isn’t that very different from reducing God’s revelation to a system I can manage and manipulate to my own advantage?