A Reflection on Matthew 11:25-30 N.A.B.
By: Larry T
Scene at a recent Scripture study class:
The instructor said, “The Catholic Church recognizes that Holy Scripture can have four senses of meaning: the literal sense, the allegorical or mystical sense, the anagogical or future sense especially concerning end-times, and the tropological or moral sense.”
A hand shot up in the front row, “Can you give us an example?”
“Sure. Boniface Ramsey did an excellent job of explaining it in his book, Beginning to Read the Fathers. He said the city of Jerusalem is a good example of something that may be understood according to four senses. Historically, in the literal sense, it is the city of the Jews; allegorically it is the Church of Christ; anagogically, in the future, end times sense, it is that heavenly city of God which is the mother of us all; tropologically, in the moral sense, it is the human soul, which frequently under this title is either blamed or praised by the Lord.”
A gray-haired woman in the back row jumped up and snorted, “Where does this teaching come from?”
“It comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article Three, Sacred Scripture, one-hundred fifteen through one-hundred eighteen."
The woman stormed out of the classroom at the end of the session, and sadly enough, never returned to the class. Even worse, she convinced a friend of hers to drop out too.
This Sunday we read about the learned and wise Scribes and Pharisees who had closed their minds to Jesus and his teachings. Jesus was talking about them when he said, “. . . you have hidden these things from the wise and learned . . .”
25 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.
26 Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
27 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.
28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
– Matthew 11:25-30 N.A.B.
– Matthew 11:25-30 N.A.B.
What did the gray-haired woman in the Scripture study class have in common with the wise and learned in today's gospel reading? What do a parachute and the human mind have in common? They both work properly only when they are open! The wise and learned in this gospel reading had closed their minds to Jesus and his preaching. Only the humble of heart (the childlike) can embrace new teaching and part with old traditions; they are the ones that Jesus always connected with. The tension, and sometimes incompatibility, between the old and the new is part of every religious tradition and accompanies every change within that tradition. Present day Christians have no less a challenge in dealing with change than did Jesus’ audiences.
Every word that Jesus preached was a divine act in human form - a revelation of the Father granted to those open to receive it and refused to the arrogant. In his work, Jesus in Nazareth, Erich Grässer wrote, “Just as his power is our salvation, so our unbelief is his powerlessness.” God constantly offers us the nourishment necessary for our lifelong spiritual journeys; we must be humble of heart and teachable to receive it.