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37. A Flash of Joy (Matthew 11:25-30)

July 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Meditations, The Better Part

“This Spirit, the dispenser of the treasures that are in the Father and keeper of the counsels that are between the Father and the Son, pours himself so sweetly into the soul that he is not perceived, and his greatness is understood by few.” St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi

Matthew 11:25-30: At that time Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

Christ the Lord  After reflecting on those who reject him and his message, Jesus now takes comfort in thinking of those who accept him. In his prayer of thanksgiving, he gives us yet another glimpse of his utter uniqueness.

He alone among men “knows the Father,” because he alone is the Son. Therefore, no one can reveal God to us as he can. If we want to know God, as every human heart does (consciously or not), we have only one recourse: Jesus Christ. Christ’s Lordship derives from his very identity as God, not from some extrinsic privilege. And so, if we go to him, look to him, study him, speak with him, follow him, delve into his teachings, and query those who have come to know him better than we have, we will be discovering God himself. If we lift our minds up to him, we will begin to think and see as he does, and if we give him our hearts, we will allow him to take the reins of our lives. God wants to be known and loved, and so he sent us Jesus Christ to be his self-revelation.

Christ the Teacher  Since every heart innately yearns for God, this Gospel passage ought to be prized above all others, for it teaches us the secret for satisfying that yearning. To encounter God requires only one thing. Not intellectual prowess, worldly excellence, or sophisticated achievements, but simplicity. God gives himself to those who are “mere children” – to those who are childlike. The mark of children is not innocence; most often they are quite mischievous. It is not ignorance, for they often surprise us with their insights and thoughtful questions. Nor is it helplessness, for many of them are streetwise survivors, as often seen in situations of poverty and war.

The mark of the child is trust. Children readily put their trust in those given charge over them (until that trust is violated). It is natural for children to depend on their parents, to follow unquestioningly their older siblings. They have not yet developed the average adult’s haughty air of self-sufficiency. By word and example (as for example in the Garden of Gethsemane) Jesus teaches us that intimacy with God requires trust above all. Faith is trusting that what God reveals is true; hope is trusting that what he promises will come about; love is trusting that what he asks us to do is what we should do. If we put our trust in God, and not in ourselves, we will find God.

for post on Matthew 11:25-30Christ the Friend Pulling weeds for a whole day all by oneself is a wearisome thing. But working side-by-side with a good friend considerably lessens the weariness. Life lays upon us many burdens, which our own selfish tendencies make doubly hard. Jesus Christ wants to bear them with us, softening them with his wise humility, walking by our side as the best of friends. Those who have accepted his invitation and hitched their life to his under the same yoke, like two oxen pulling a plow together, have discovered the difference. They are called saints, and their joy never wanes, not in this life and not in the next.

Christ in My Life  I want to know you, Lord. I want to know what you care about, what you think about, what’s on your mind and in your heart. I want to know what makes you smile, what makes you frown. I want to discover the God who created me – who created all things. Jesus, your face reveals God’s face. Open my eyes, Lord, let me see you…

Lord, I know you don’t judge me, because you promise that you are meek and lowly of heart. How hard it is for me not to judge! How much grief I cause myself and others by my outbursts of vanity, arrogance, and anger! I want to learn from you, Lord, and I know you want to teach me. Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours…

Lord, why do I think I can do everything by myself? You designed me to need other people, to help other people, and to depend upon God for everything. This is the law of your universe. Like a little child in its mother’s arms, so I keep myself in you, O Lord. Teach me to trust you and to obey your will. Thy Kingdom come…

 

PS: This is just one of 303 units of Fr. John’s fantastic book The Better Part. To learn more about The Better Part or to purchase in print, Kindle or iPhone editions, click here. Also, please help us get these resources to people who do not have the funds or ability to acquire them by clicking here.

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Art for this post on Matthew 11:25-30: Cover of The Better Part used with permission. Pflügender Araber mit Dromedaren in abendlicher Landschaft (Ploughing Arab with dromedaries in evening landscape), Gustave Guillaumet, by 1887, PD-US author’s life plus 70 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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  • C J Sebastian333

    Fr. John: hope you don’t mind me adding to what is already very profound and and insightful, but St. Catherine of Siena is my “buddy,” and wanted to share with your readers these words from her Dialog, in keeping with the spirit of your most recent post:

    “Man is placed above all creatures, and not beneath them, and he cannot be satisfied or content except in something greater than himself. Greater than himself there is nothing but Myself, the Eternal God. Therefore I alone can satisfy him, and, because he is deprived of this satisfaction by his guilt, he remains in continual torment and pain. Weeping follows pain, and when he begins to weep, the wind strikes the tree of self-love, which he has made the principle of all his being.” (Page 203). This work was dictated by Saint Catherine of Siena during a state of ecstasy while in dialogue with God the Father. Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) was declared a Doctor of the Church on October 4, 1970

  • Cynthia

    It’s so good to have this weekly post from The Better Part back. I like to incude it in my prayer and meditation on the Wunday’s upcoming Gospel reading. Dan, you and your family are like part of my own and I pray for you as you make your new home in a new community of believers. Spiritual Direction and Fr. John’s posts are an integral part of my spiritual journey, even though I see a Spiritual Director every 6 weeks or so. Thank you for you dedication and sharing your wisdom with all of us.

  • Becky Ward

    This is one of my favorite parts of scripture.

    There is a certain ‘intellectual pride’ that creeps in on the heels of our scientific and technological advances that we must be wary of. We know so much! Yet it is only through God’s grace that we do……….and how easy it is to lose sight of this and become complacent.

    Relationships are the only thing we can take with us when this life is over ~ how very amazing to know that the God who created us from nothing…….longs for us to turn to him, and allow Him to love us. Part of this childlike trust is a willingness to receive as children do. When we ‘get’ that, and truly open our hearts, watch out! for God is not stingy with His love, but pours it out in abundance!

  • Guest

    ‘I bless you, Father, Lord
    of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the
    clever and revealing them to mere children.’
    This Divine Truth from Jesus, is marvelously displayed by the confidence of, say, a 4-year old child. Whenever I meet a parent with his or her 4-year old boy or girl, I always bend and ask the kid. “Who is this?” and the child looking up at the face of the parent with adoring love, turns to me and says “This is my Mommy/Daddy”. Then I politely ask the child, “Oh, how do you know?” The child looks at me with pity for my stupidity and states “Of course, this is my Mommy/Daddy”. And each time I play this game, the Faith and Love of that child to the parent, reaffirms to me how I need to love and trust God unquestioningly, with total conviction without bothering to understand how I know He loves me with a personal, total and infinite Love as only God can love, no matter how unworthy I am of His Love.

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