The Tragedy of the Learned

Matthew 11: 25-27
Isa 10: 5-7. 13b-16 / Ps 94: 5-10, 14-15

Father, Lord of heaven and earth. . . you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, and revealed them to little children.
(Matthew 11: 25)

How do we show our gratitude
For all the blessings God has given?
We simply change our attitude,
And give ourselves like little children.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed 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.” (Matthew 11: 25-27)


Today’s short Gospel passage seems to be telling us that God prefers to reveal His truths to people who have less intelligence, maybe because as the saying goes, intelligent people are too smart for their own good. Come to think of it, most of the atheists and agnostics we know come from the intelligentsia, and are usually writers and philosophers. Most famous of the more tragic ones was Ernest Hemingway, who said, “All thinking men are atheists.” We remember Virginia Wolfe, the famous English novelist, who committed suicide because she was going insane. Too bright for her own good. Then there’s the infamous philosopher, Nietzsche, who said that death was the ultimate liberation. Another agnostic who took his life was Voltaire, who declared that “In one hundred years the Bible will be forgotten and eliminated.” The irony of his life was that shortly after his death, his residence became the headquarters of the Geneva Bible Society, a major distribution center for the Book that he predicted would not last. Not to be forgotten is the famous Mark Twain, who said, ” It is not the parts of the Bible that I cannot understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” How sad that one so brilliant in words could be so blind to the Word of God. Then of course there’s Hitler, the mass murderer who did not spare his own life. All of these brilliant minds were so full of themselves that they found life to be empty and meaningless.

Of course there are probably just as many intelligent people who are blessings to our society, if not to mankind itself. In one web log, I read about a Japanese researcher who developed video games for the Nintendo company’s portable system. For his creation, he was entitled to receive 11 million dollars in royalties. But he donated most of the proceeds for the construction projects in the university where he was working. ‘Not a single yen has gone in my pocket,’ he told the AFP in a recent interview. ‘My hobby is work,’ he said. Everyone in his family was fuming mad at him, but he said, ‘I tell them that if they want money, go out and earn it.’ There was also the case of a Manila teacher who discovered more than two million Pesos in her ATM bank account (a computer glitch, according to the bank’s manager), when she knew she only had a balance of less than Ten Thousand Pesos. She reported the discrepancy to the bank, much to the consternation of her siblings, who mistakenly thought the honest teacher had gone out of her mind.

The families of that Japanese researcher and the Manila teacher thought that their actions were unwise, not to have kept the fortune that had literally dropped into their lives. But they were gravely mistaken. On the contrary, these two were gifted with something more valuable than the wealth of this world, simple but lasting values like honesty and hard work.

We thank You, Lord Jesus, for the lessons that we have learned from Your teachings in the Gospel, lessons that the worldly and the wise of this world ignore in their pursuit of temporal things, but precious to us who believe that they will help us to gain eternal life. Amen.

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