Woe to the Wise

Matthew 11:25-27
Ex 3:1-6, 9-12 / Psa 103

You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
(Matthew 11:25)

May you be blessed in words and deed,
In trust and faith be reconciled,
From prejudice be truly freed,
As you aspire to be God’s child.

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)

Reflection

Jesus had just rebuked the proud and unrepentant citizens of Capernaum, when He paused and said a short prayer to His Father — within earshot of the proud Jews whom He had rebuked. He also prayed it for the benefit of His disciples, who were the “little children” –- not as wise or as learned but more than compensated for their faith.

Human wisdom and knowledge often become stumbling blocks to the deeper understanding of God’s ways. As we grow older and wiser in the ways of the world, we begin to lose the innocence and trusting attitude of a child. Instead, we become “adulterated” by undesirable traits like pragmatism, prejudice, and pride. As these character traits take root, child-like attitudes like humility and simplicity — attributes that endear us to God — lose importance and are displaced.

God is stern to the proud, but is kind to the humble (Prov.3:34). That is because God wants us to depend fully on Him, just as He assured Moses, His humble servant (1st reading) that he could depend on Him (Yahweh) to bring the Israelites out of the bonds of slavery in Egypt. Like Moses, only the humble of heart can receive divine wisdom from the Holy Spirit to understand God as our Father, submitting to His Word with child-like trust and humility. An example of this kind soul is the teacher who discovered that she had more than two million Pesos balance 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 thought their honest sister’s action was unwise, not to have kept the fortune that had literally dropped into her lap. But they were gravely mistaken. On the contrary, this honest woman was gifted with something far more valuable than the wealth of this world.

St. Paul gives us a clearer perspective of God’s plans when he wrote: “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God” (1 Cor.1:27-29).

Only the little babes can boast and get away with it. Like the time our grandson, Julio, who was 2 years old then, showed off his antics by piling some pillows on the floor and jumping from the bed like some professional diver. As his Mom and grandma shrieked in fear, he was laughing proudly as he did it again and again, confident that nothing bad could befall him. What joy it is to be a child of God, innocent, trusting, and full of faith.

Lord, give us the simplicity and pure faith of a child, devoid of fear or doubt, but full of confidence in your mercy and love. Take away all our cynicisms and pride which hinder us from following Your ways. We thank You 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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