Homily – 14th Sunday Ordinary Time – 9th June 2023
Scripture scholars call this Gospel passage the ‘Hymn of Jubilation’ because in it, Christ quite literally rejoices in the Father’s plan for salvation. He praises the Father’s decision to hide himself from the learned and the clever and reveal the greatest truths first to the merest children. The word that is translated here as ‘children’ means literally ‘the little ones.’ And it refers not so much to age as to status, the poor, the unimportant, the week, those who are most certainly not the movers and shakers, the shapers of society.
Now certainly ignorance, in any field, is not a good thing. Quite the contrary, it is a thing to be combated, erased. For centuries the Church has insisted on the value of learning, of the best possible scholarship.
In the same way neither is it a good thing to starve…to have no clothes, no shelter. We completely misunderstand Christ’s identification with the poor if we allow ourselves to grow indifferent to the great suffering that poverty causes.
Meekness and humility are hardly virtues if we use them as a way to hide from responsibility, an excuse for doing nothing, never involving oneself in the God-given mission to create the world, to make something good of it.
Rather, Christ praises a sense of poverty, of ‘littleness’, that makes us realise that ultimately there isn’t very much difference between having much and having nothing much. That what whatever we have it is never really ours, it is from God, and sooner or later will have to be given back to him.
Christ praises a sense of meekness and humility that teaches us not to deny our powers and skills, not to retreat from them, but teaches us rather not to make more of them than they really are. Not to become so taken up with what we can do by our design, that we lose sight of what we must do by God’s design. That is the littleness that saves, that ultimate reliance on God, and a readiness to be directed by his will, even when, especially when, that may seem, for no good reason at all, to contradict our own.
And of course, the great thing is that it works. Reliance on God brings happiness. In the last few lines of the Gospel Christ promises, ‘Do what I do, be little, as I am, and you will find peace. My yoke is easy, my burden is light.’
Once a person learns that sort of humility and simply stops trying to direct the flow of people and things and events, something which cannot be done anyway, a real burden of anxiety is lifted. For such a person, as for Christ in the Gospel, no matter what else may be going on, suddenly there is room enough in one’s life for rejoicing.