The Ideal Christian
In this passage Jesus praises the Wisdom of the Father in saying, “You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, but have revealed them to little ones.” 1
In an immediate interpretation of this passage the scribes and Pharisees are the wise and learned. They are very important people. They are the elite of Israel: scholars of scripture, tradition, rituals, and the law. They study and debate complex theological concepts. interpret the law in judicial matters, and govern the people of Israel.
In contrast to the learning and eloquence of the scribes and Pharisees, the little ones are Jesus' disciples. They are those who listen and hear, who hear and believe, and who believe and follow Christ. These are the simple, the ordinary, and the unpretentious. They live by the labor of their hands, or the charity of others, in total dependence on God and their faith.
What differentiates these two groups? In short, the scribes and Pharisees, the educated, the scholars of Israel, know all about God. But these little ones, these poor, humble, and simple souls, know God in person. They know God as their Friend, Protector, and Savior – whose Love has been proven in many times of need. And they, intuitively know about God through the perfection and infallibility of the Holy Spirit, through whom all things are revealed.
Like many in our society, and even other Christians, Catholics come in a variety of flavors. Some are baptized, and even confirmed, never to be seen again. Others fulfill the minimum requirements, but as Jesus said, “their hearts are far from me”.2 And then there are those who are so filled with gratitude and devotion that they dedicate the entirety of their lives to the Lord. These little ones are the ones to whom Our Lord reveals Himself. Jesus said,“Let the children come to me, … for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 3
Last week we heard Jesus say, “whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me”.4 Yet, today Jesus s ays, “Mmy yoke is easy, and my burden light”. 5 To many this is a stumbling block, a contradiction. How can bearing a cross be easy and light? But to the simple, to the pure of heart, these statements are in complete agreement.
What the wise and learned may not understand is that love empowers discipleship. Let me repeat that, as it is critically important. Love empowers discipleship. The greater our love for Jesus, the lighter is our burden. The more Jesus occupies our heart, the easier our yoke. And this applies no matter how difficult our crosses may be. If we remain close to Christ, even the things we find most difficult to bear, will become pleasant when we seek to live fully in God's Divine Will.
These readings present an important opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship with Christ. Yes, it's important to know about God, but so much more important that our hearts are filled with a love of God, and that the Spirit of Christ dwells fully in us. Through our love for Christ, and Christ's love for us. even the heaviest burdens become light. But, without such a love, we will easily become discouraged and lost.
Given the broad spectrum of religious sentiment, everything from active opposition, to indifference, to complete devotion, how would you rate your love? How would you rate your discipleship? And what is your greatest desire?
I suppose we all have ideas about what an ideal Christian would be. Certainly, we need look no further than the Blessed Virgin and St. John the Baptist. But, for me, it has always been St. Francis of Assisi, St. Faustina, and since I came here, St. Germaine.
So, the question I pose to you is this. Is there an ideal Christian that you dream of being? And, in your heart of hearts, what changes need to be made for you to become the Christian of your dreams? A Christian of courage, A Christian who speaks out against evil.
"For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love." 6 Jesus tells us - blessed is he who is not ashamed of Me.