Today’s Gospel passage (Matt 11:25-30) is beautiful, refreshing, and reassuring. Jesus invites us to seek consolation from him, offers to share our burdens, and encourages us to follow and learn from him as a way to find true inner peace and happiness.
To the wise (and the unwise) Christ also insinuates a subtle warning in this Gospel: Be on guard against your own intellectual pride; it may become your own undoing.
Christ’s listeners in this passage are his closest followers. They believe in him, trust him, and follow his teaching. The scene is a joyous one, because the disciples have just experienced triumph over the forces of evil and sadness — they themselves exercised his power to cast out demons, cure the sick, and convert sinners through preaching the Gospel. They are feeling exuberant as they reap the benefits of their success, and yet they also experience the interior peace and satisfaction that comes only to the humble and “childlike,” the ones willing take Christ at his word. Having truly learned from him, they now participate in the deep joy that can only come from God.
The “wise and learned” Jesus refers to in this Gospel, on the other hand, arrogantly demand that God explain himself completely before they agree to trust in him. While that may be a reasonable expectation to have from a politician, it’s a diabolical attitude to take in relation to God. In Jesus’ day, the “wise and learned” were the Pharisees and Sadducees, the intellectuals, leaders of the people, and other influential men of means, who would eventually nail Jesus to a cross instead of “taking his yoke upon them.”
We may not have many bonafide Pharisees and Sadducees walking among us today, but it isn’t hard nowadays to come across men and women who adopt a pharisaical attitude when it comes to God, the Church, and Christ’s teaching. Some people can’t imagine that maybe, just maybe, God knows a little bit more than they do. As a consequence of that mentality, they are unable accept Christ’s teaching with faith, the way children trust in their parents.
As a result, they cut themselves off from the joy, interior peace, and deep satisfaction that only Christ can bring. By refusing to take up Christ’s yoke, they have refused to let him give them rest. They commit a serious sin we don’t hear much about these days, perhaps because it is so widespread: the sin of presumption.
Presumption is a diabolical form of intellectual pride, which puts the creature into the place of the creator, and because of our fallen nature, we must all be on guard against it for no one is perfectly exempt from it. Because presumption is essentially a manifestation of arrogance, it is not always easy for those who succumb to it to perceive it in themselves. A clear sign of presumption is when the soul is robbed of its internal peace it ought to have.
The antidote to the intellectual sickness of presumption is to trust Christ and learn from him to be meek and humble of heart. For as he tells us in this Gospel, this is what brings peace to our soul. So to prevent the pitfall of presumption in our lives, we must come to him as children, turn to him often in our prayers, and keep him present in our thoughts.
When we do this, we will always be mindful that we are the ones created to reverence, love, and obey God, not the other way around.
[Adapted from ePriest.com]