The Three Conditions of Receptivity to God’s Word and Will, 15th Wednesday (II), July 13, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Wednesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of St. Henry
July 13, 2016
Is 10:5-7.13-16, Ps 94, Mt 11:25-27


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Today’s Gospel allows Jesus to continue to guide us as to how we’re called to receive him and his work in our life and how we’re supposed to understand the welcoming others give to Him and to us when we are seeking to proclaim the Gospel in Jesus’ name. Jesus describes that it is the will of the Father to reveal himself to us and to others, but there are three conditions to our and others’ receptivity to God’s self-revelation.
  • First, God reveals himself to us in his Son as the Son reveals himself to us by through the Father. Jesus tells us, “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.” The way we come to know God the Father and the depth of his ardent love is through Jesus’ choosing to reveal him to us, which is a tremendous grace. Jesus is the icon of the Father and also speaks not only of the Father but also what he hears the Father saying. His whole mission on earth was to help us establish this loving bond with the Father, teaching us by his example and explicit instructions to pray, “Our Father.”
  • Second, to receive this revelation we must do so not just through spiritual childhood but entering into Jesus’ spiritual childhood. Jesus joyfully exclaims in prayer, “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.” We can’t get to know the Father as Father unless we see ourselves not just as children, but his children, and we do that in Jesus. The wise and the clever of this world try to pretend as “grown-ups,” who say, “Thanks, but I’ve got it from here,” who try to be self-sufficient rather than dependent on the Father, who behave like the sons in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the first of whom treats the Father as if he is as good as dead to him and no longer needed, and the second treats him more as a slave master than as a dad. To receive the revelation of the Father we need to be open like children, we need to be receptive and trusting, we need to learn from Jesus, who is not only the revelation of the Father but also the revelation of how to relate to the Father as a beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased. When Jesus describes the “wise and the clever,” we should note, he’s not castigating intelligence but intellectual pride. We see this type of pride in the Assyrians in today’s first reading from the Prophet Isaiah. God was delivering the kingdom of Judah into their hand in order to bring his people to conversion, but they responded with arrogance. Putting Assyria’s attitude into words in their mouth, God describes their intellectual pride through his prophet: “By my own power I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd,” the Assyrians say. “I have moved the boundaries of peoples, their treasures I have pillaged, and, like a giant, I have put down the enthroned. My hand has seized like a nest the riches of nations; As one takes eggs left alone, so I took in all the earth.” There was no openness to God. They were too wise and clever, to powerful and wise on their own, too shrewd, too giantlike in their own estimation to need God. Jesus was also clearly referring to those scribes and Pharisees whose intimate knowledge of the Scriptures actually prevented rather than facilitated their hearing him speaking to them live in the Word made flesh. They not only resisted Jesus’ words, they not only pretended that even his miracles were done by the power of the devil, but they ended up culminating their resistance to God’s word by breaking the fifth and seventh commandments and conspiring to frame and to kill Jesus. Jesus calls us not to be clever like them, but to progress to full stature, to mature manhood, precisely through spiritual childhood. Yesterday we celebrated for the first time the feast of SS. Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese Lisieux, and it was first in their home that God taught St. Therese the way of spiritual childhood to which we’re all called. We ask their intercession that we might grow in that same school! Jesus actually uses an expression in Greek of the childlike that means “non-speaking” or “no-word,” pointing to the stage of infancy before the child is able to express himself  in words. That doesn’t mean they’re babblers, but that they’re defined not by their own words, their own thoughts, their own opinions, but by accept Jesus’ word, which they receive, live in accordance with, and announce. It’s not their own takes that matter, but God’s. They’re those who are able to enter into the mysteries because they’re docile, because they accept Jesus, who is the revelation of all the hidden things he himself announces. Jesus, “the Son,” wishes to reveal the Father to all of us but only the childlike, only the docile, only those with good soil accept that revelation enfleshed in Jesus.
  • Third, we need to receive that revelation also with joy, because if we’re not receiving God’s revelation with joy, we’re not receiving it anywhere in its fullness, because Jesus came so that his joy might be in us and our joy complete. In today’s prayer, Jesus exclaims, “Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will!” He rejoices in it. He rejoices in the Father’s will throughout, even when it would lead to us saying, “Not my will, but thy will, be done!,” while sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he was entrusting himself to the Father from the Cross, when he was leaving the tomb, when he was sending the Holy Spirit with the Father, when he was calling each of us. Likewise we’re called to rejoice at the will of God, even when at a human level it’s excruciating. That’s what truly childlike trust leads us to do. This is essential for our living out our Christian obedience well, not to mention our promises and vows of obedience in the priesthood and religious life respectively. God wants to help us to do his will with cheerfulness, even when it’s not easy. There’s a story in the life of St. Henry whom the Church celebrates today that illustrates this point well. He was a very pious king living in a time in which he really did need to bring order to Bavaria and beyond. He helped to organize the Church by reorganizing dioceses, building Cathedrals, erecting monasteries. He eventually became a Benedictine Oblate and it is said that he wanted to entrust the kingship to someone else so that he could truly live the life of a monk. After the abbot received his oblation, he commanded him under holy obedience to administer the kingdom in a holy and just way, and that’s what Henry did. Even though it was against what he wanted to do, which is dedicate himself more to the “work of God” through prayer we were speaking about on the feast of St. Benedict, but God wanted him to do his work in the world. And I like to think that St. Henry rejoiced to do what God clearly wanted.
  • The great place we learn to say with every cell of our body  “Yes, Father! Such has been your gracious will!,” together with Jesus, is here at Mass. This is the place where we say, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth.” The word translated, “I give you praise, Father,” is better translated, “I gratefully avow, Father.” Jesus was vowing, consecrating, committing himself to the Father with gratitude over his plan. Mass is the place we do so. Mass is the place where we become more childlike. I’ve always loved Psalm 43 that priests pray at the foot of the altar in the extraordinary form of the Mass. It begins, “I will go up to the altar of God to the God who rejuvenates me with joy.” Every time we approach Mass we become more childlike, we fill ourselves not with our own words but the words of the Church, the bride and body of Christ that we make in unison with him. The Mass is the place of the revelation of Jesus’ word and the fullness of his divine love. Together with St. Henry, with SS. Louis and Zelie, and all the saints, we rejoice to be here, we gratefully renew our vows to God, we praise him or his gracious will, and we ask him for all the graces we need, like trusting children, to spend our lives as living, loving commentaries of that holy grace and holy will!

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 IS 10:5-7, 13B-16

Thus says the LORD:
Woe to Assyria! My rod in anger,
my staff in wrath.
Against an impious nation I send him,
and against a people under my wrath I order him
To seize plunder, carry off loot,
and tread them down like the mud of the streets.
But this is not what he intends,
nor does he have this in mind;
Rather, it is in his heart to destroy,
to make an end of nations not a few.For he says:
“By my own power I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.
I have moved the boundaries of peoples,
their treasures I have pillaged,
and, like a giant, I have put down the enthroned.
My hand has seized like a nest
the riches of nations;
As one takes eggs left alone,
so I took in all the earth;
No one fluttered a wing,
or opened a mouth, or chirped!”Will the axe boast against him who hews with it?
Will the saw exalt itself above him who wields it?
As if a rod could sway him who lifts it,
or a staff him who is not wood!
Therefore the Lord, the LORD of hosts,
will send among his fat ones leanness,
And instead of his glory there will be kindling
like the kindling of fire.

Responsorial Psalm PS 94:5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 14-15

R. (14a) The Lord will not abandon his people.
Your people, O LORD, they trample down,
your inheritance they afflict.
Widow and stranger they slay,
the fatherless they murder.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
And they say, “The LORD sees not;
the God of Jacob perceives not.”
Understand, you senseless ones among the people;
and, you fools, when will you be wise?
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
Shall he who shaped the ear not hear?
or he who formed the eye not see?
Shall he who instructs nations not chastise,
he who teaches men knowledge?
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.

Alleluia MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 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.”