“At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“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.”
Worldly wisdom would have us believe that the way to be great and accomplish much is to be well-prepared, have taken all the right classes, read the right books, know the right people, have the right experiences… But our God is a God of surprises. Today’s readings show us how he called Moses, a stuttering murderer, to deliver his people from bondage. The gospel passage tells us that God has hidden the truths of the Kingdom from the wise and learned, but revealed them to the childlike. More often than not, we see God choosing the ones from a humble background: sinners, second born, unlearned tradesmen, women. When he does choose someone the world would expect that is learned and of high standing in the world, they are shown to have to overcome an obstacle, like Paul, knocked off his horse and blinded with the glory of God.
My little children do not have preconceived notions about God. They just accept what we tell them. They do what we do. Learned people do not accept things this easily. They must consider whether the new information is in line with what they already hold to be true and if they do not line up, they must accept one and reject the other. If a person’s heart is truly seeking God above all things, he will not hesitate to give up the long-held erroneous view for the truth that is revealed. If, however, the person is more interested in being in control, being certain, being well-thought of, he may reject God’s truth for his previously held view accepted by the world.
I often wonder what I would have done if I had lived at the time of Jesus. Would I have just thought they were some gullible nuts preaching blasphemy? The things Christianity proposes are outrageous to the Jewish ear. I think that if I were privileged to be able to actually know Jesus, hear his teachings, ask him questions, see how he interacted with people, witnessed the miracles he performed, perhaps I would have been able to believe the good news. I think that the learned, as Jesus pointed out, were at a disadvantage because they had God in their preconceived-notion-box. They had certain beliefs and expectations about God and his plan, and could not see that God had indeed fulfilled his promises, but in a very different way than they expected. The unlearned people who believed in him had their experiences of Jesus himself to convince them, and were less hung up on doctrine and theories and what they had to lose by following him.
Being learned is not necessarily a bar from entering the kingdom. St. Thomas Aquinas is a great saint of the Church, not because he was able to write enduring theological treatises like the Summa Theologica, but because he loved Jesus and lived accordingly. Even Satan knows the truth, he just doesn’t love and submit to God. Learning is not enough, especially if the learning is not quite accurate. We should never be surprised when God surprises us–it is what he does.
Deacon Alex Jones was surprised to find God in the Catholic Church. I was blessed to be able to hear him speak once before he died. He had been a Pentecostal pastor with a church. He was doing some studying on the early Church fathers and became more and more convinced of the truth as he looked into things. He had a choice to make–would he reject the very God he taught others about at church on Sundays? Would he give up everything he had worked for and built–his church, friends, family members? “How could I say ‘no’ to God?,” said Jones. This man was learned, and thought he knew all about God, but God continued to reveal himself to him, and to his credit, Deacon Jones followed God and became a “completed Pentecostal” in the Catholic Church. God used his witness and ministry mightily. If you want to hear more, you can watch this video on Deacon Alex Jones’s conversion story.
I don’t know about you, but I want the truth, not my own false preconceived notions. I want the real God, not my own boxed god. I want to be his beloved child and believe what he tells me and do what he does. I need to spend time with him in my heart-chapel listening to him. Book learning and worldly wisdom can only get us so far. We need an encounter with the ever living God and his Holy Spirit that lives in us.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray.
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.