Lectio Divina: Matthew 11:25-27
1) Opening prayer
God our Father,
Your light of truth
guides us to the way of Christ.
May all who follow Him
reject what is contrary to the Gospel.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 11:25-27
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. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
• Context. The liturgical passage of Mt 11:25-27 represents a turning point in the Gospel of Matthew: Jesus is asked the first questions regarding the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. The first one to ask the first questions on the identity of Jesus is John the Baptist, who through his disciples asks Him a concrete question: “Are You the one who is to come, or are we to expect someone else?” (11:3). Instead, the Pharisees, together with the scribes, address words of reproach and judgment to Jesus: “Look, Your disciples are doing something that is forbidden on the Sabbath” (12:2). Up until now in chapters 1 to 10, the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven in the person of Jesus did not seem to find any obstacles, but beginning with chapter 11, we find some concrete difficulties. Or rather many begin to take a stand with regard to Jesus: sometimes He is “the object of scandal,” of fall (11:6); “this generation,” in the sense of this human descent, does not have an attitude of acceptance regarding the Kingdom that is to arrive; the cities along the lake are not converted (11:20); concerning the behavior of Jesus a true and proper controversy springs up (chapter 12), and thus they begin to think how to put Him to death (12:14). This is the climate of mistrust and of protest into which Matthew inserts this passage.
Now the moment has arrived in which to question oneself about the activity of Jesus: how to interpret the “works of Christ” (11:2,19)? How can these thaumaturgic actions be explained (11:20,21,23)? Such questions concern the crucial question of Messiah- ship of Jesus, and judge not only “this generation” but also the cities around the lake which have not converted as the Kingdom of Heaven gets closer in the person of Jesus.
• To become small. The most efficacious way to carry out this conversion is to become “small.” Jesus communicates this strategy of “smallness” in a prayer of thanksgiving (11:27) which has a wonderful parallel in the witness rendered to the Father on the occasion of the Baptism (11:27). Experts love to call this prayer a “hymn of rejoicing, exultation.” The rhythm of the prayer of Jesus begins with a confession: “I praise You,” “I confess to You.” Such expressions of introduction render Jesus’ words quite solemn. The prayer of praise that Jesus recites presents the characteristics of an answer addressed to the reader. Jesus addresses Himself to God with the expression “Lord of Heaven and earth,” that is, to God as creator and guardian of the world. In Judaism, instead, it was the custom to address God with the invocation “Lord of the world,” but they did not add the term “Father,” a distinctive characteristic of the prayer of Jesus. The reason for the praise and the disclosing of God: because You have hidden..., revealed. The hiding referred to the “wise and intelligent” concerns of the scribes and the Pharisees, completely closed up and hostile to the coming of the Kingdom (3:7 ff; 7:29; 9:3,11, 34). The revelation is to the little ones, the Greek term says “infants,” those who cannot speak as yet. Thus, Jesus indicates the privileged audience of the proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven as those who are not experts of the Law and are not instructed.
What are “these things” that are hidden or revealed? The content of this revelation or hiding is Jesus, the Son of God, the one who reveals the Father. It is evident for the reader that the revelation of God is linked indissolubly to the person of Jesus, to His Word, to His Messianic actions. He is the one who allows the revelation of God and not the Law or the premonitory events of the end of time.
• The revelation of God from the Father to the Son. In the last part of the discourse Jesus makes a presentation of self as the one to whom every thing has been communicated by the Father. In the context of the coming of the Kingdom, Jesus has the role and the mission to reveal the Heavenly Father in everything. In such a role He receives the totality of power, of knowledge and of the authority to judge. In order to confirm this role, which is so committed, Jesus appeals to the witness of the Father, the only One who possesses a real knowledge of Jesus: “Nobody knows the Son but the Father,” and vice-versa “and nobody knows the Father but the Son.” The witness of the Father is irreplaceable so that the unique dignity of Jesus as Son may be understood by His disciples. Besides, the uniqueness of Jesus is affirmed in the revelation of the Father; the Gospel of John had already affirmed this: “No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made Him known” (1:18). To summarize, the Evangelist makes his readers understand that the revelation of the Father takes place through the Son. Even more: the Son reveals the Father to whom He wants.
4) Personal questions
• In your prayer do you feel the need to express all your gratitude to the Father for the gifts that He has given you in life? Does it happen to you to confess publicly, to exult in the Lord because of the wonderful works that He accomplishes in the world; in the Church, and in your life?
• In your search for God do you rely on your wisdom and intelligence or do you allow yourself to be guided by the wisdom of God? How attentive are you to your relationship with Jesus? Do you listen to His word? Do you assume His sentiments in order to discover His physiognomy of Son of the Heavenly Father?
5) Concluding Prayer
My lips shall proclaim Your saving justice,
Your saving power all day long.
God, You have taught me from boyhood,
and I am still proclaiming Your marvels. (Ps 71:15,17)