In today’s Gospel Story Jesus talks about God hiding things from the learned and clever and revealing them to “little ones”. When we prayerfully open ourselves to Jesus in the gospels we see he is completely focused on living his Father’s healing love with everyone he meets. He didn’t exclude anyone. He let the people decide for themselves whether or not they would accept what he was doing and teaching others to do. The ones who had problems with Jesus and his teaching were those who were so involved with the Temple and Empire systems that they just could not accept the goodness Jesus had to offer. They seemed to be what Jesus referred to as as the learned and clever.
Many of us still have trouble with the way Jesus lived his Father’s love. We tend to overthink, to analyze according to our comfort and security. It bothers us that Jesus reached out to everybody, and let the individual people decide whether or not to accept what he offered. That probably isn’t something we feel comfortable doing, so we come up with ways not to accept it. In our various traditions we make rules and standards we impose on others, and which make us feel strong and secure, but impose intolerable burdens on folks whose life and story we do not understand. We act as though these standards came from Jesus himself, though there is ittle evidence that he ever did anything like them. Each group maintains their way is the only true way. Many of these standards vary significantly from each other, and are even contradictory, reflecting our own fears and prejudices
We see this happening as Pope Francis leads the church to be a Synodal church, a listening church. From his prayer journey and life experiences he believes the Spirit is in, and speaks through, all of us, and we can learn from openly and truly listening to the stories and experiences of others. He is opposed by those who believe only in a top down church where the Spirit speaks to the top levels of leadership who then pass the word down through the various levels to the folks in the pews. Yet it is the folks in the pews who often see the difference between how they are told their life should be and what their life experience really is. As Jesus shows us in his own life among us, being open to the Spirit seems always to involve struggles with others’ personal interests. People trying to live open to the Spirit as they encounter Her might be what Jesus meant by “little ones”. It seems they are constantly running afoul of the folks who believe only they have the true way and cannot accept any other way.
In the Story Jesus also says, “Come to me all you who labor and care burdened and I will give you rest”. Very often Jesus does this through other people in our life. Jesus shows us he is not a rescuer from “out there” somewhere, but is very much involved with us in our life right here and now. His call to follow him happens in our everyday life as it really is, not as we wish it were, not as we think, or others tell us, it should be. Jesus and the Spirit are very real. We divide our life into what is “holy” and what isn’t. But our life, all of it together, is one, and when we are open to the possibility, we encounter Jesus happening everywhere in it.
In the past several months I have had some difficult times. Through all of what was going on it has been clear that Jesus’s healing and supporting love was happening the the many kindnesses I experienced every day in the people I met. There weren’t many great acts, but there were any number of little acts of kindness, kind questions as to how things were going, smiles, cards, simple friendly gestures. The whole experience was of God happening without any conditions whatever, often in the must unexpected persons and situations.
The Story reminds us that each of us as we are is important and necessary, and reflects God in a way that no one else can. God loves us as we are, no matter what others tell us about how wrong we are or how we have to change to please their version of God. As we labor or are burdened Jesus is with us in others our life, and at times Jesus is with others through us. He may be calling use to help him live our Father’s love in our own life, to accept others and just be with them with a simple smile or wishing them well. When we take his yoke upon us, we open ourselves to Jesus as he is, which may not be as we want him to be, and we learn from him — not facts or ideas, but experiences and awareness, and we may begin to see all life in ways we’ve not even imagined before.
Whatever is going on in our life, the enjoyable or the difficult, we are exactly where we need to be for the Spirit to guide us and the Gospel to happen. Nothing has to change. We really are in a good place on our journey. Just sayin . . .