Gospel Reflection (5th Sunday after Pentecost)


(Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30)

It’s funny how we expect people to behave to fit into our ideas of what’s acceptable. I’ve heard people complain about ministers or preachers who are too down-to-earth, too real, perhaps a little too ‘common’. But then I’ve also heard complaints against ministers or preachers who are too detached from people, too intellectual, too ‘stuffy’. Sometimes people will find any excuse for something they don’t like. That’s what the establishment were doing when John and Jesus came, finding excuses to condemn them: he’s too weird; he fasts too much; he mixes with the wrong sorts; he drinks. Yet, this is how the world judges people; it’s not based on the wisdom of God.

The wisdom of God is a gift to help us understand the things of heaven. Those who let go of their earthly assumptions, who are more open to new ideas, who don’t just rely on their own knowledge, are able to receive such wisdom. God reveals such things to ‘infants’ not those who are considered ‘wise’ in earthly terms. They’re own ‘wisdom’ gets in the way of true wisdom. It is to these people that the work of God, found in Christ is revealed. It is to the ones who open themselves to God’s wisdom.

The establishment in Jesus’ time, the religious leaders, provided their own wisdom and interpretations of the law (the Torah): they’d taken it to the extreme that you had to be an expert to understand how to live by the law. They expected people to live up to this standard—it’s where all the regulations about what you can and can’t do on the Sabbath come from. But it was hard work and most people couldn’t achieve it and lived with a sense of unworthiness. Only the elite felt the pride of doing what’s right according to their interpretation: this became the yoke of the Torah—an oppressive heavy burden.

So in comes Jesus—proclaiming, not their heavy burden of human wisdom, but, the wisdom of God: wisdom given to those who are like ‘infants’. And what does Jesus say? That his yoke is easy. It’s simple and the burden light. In telling them that, they are released from the wisdom of the world. He liberates them and they find a new yoke that gives them life and transforms who they are and what they can be in the reign of God. That is good news!