I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…
At first glance, this can be a confusing passage…hidden from wise; revealed to childlike; yes, your gracious will; no one knows; anyone the Son wishes to reveal….What…When…Where…How?
Another passage directed toward the Pharisees – the self-assured and self-righteous religious leaders – their certitude often directing them off course and causing them to ‘bully’ rather than accompany. What they lacked was a humble child-like spirit, and a sense of need for and dependence on God rather than their self.
Jesus praises his Father for revealing the ‘hidden’ things of salvation to those with the ‘wonder and awe’ of the babes – they embrace the way and the hope, in contrast to the ‘wisdom and understanding’ of the righteous leaders – they dismissed his message and his miracles.
These words of Jesus are meant to challenge us, to cause us to pause and wonder. How do I shut off God’s revelation? How am I closed to the voice of the Spirit? How do I notice myself reacting (like the Pharisees) rather than responding (like Jesus)?
Jesus reminds us that we have to ‘open our hearts’ to hear his Father reveal the things in us that keep us from being his children, we have to be willing to ask the Lord to teach us.
Nelson Mandela once said “no one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin [insert ‘their religion’, ‘work’, ‘class’, ‘gender’, ‘orientation’…or simply leave it at hating another person- italics mine] If they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
I think that is the message of Jesus in this passage, open our hearts so God can teach us to love. To Live the example of Jesus all day, every day, so that our hearts will cry out as Jesus’ heart cried out I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…reveal to me the way…
Faith Offman is the Associate Director of Ministry at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit, Michigan.