The Lord of hosts says this:
Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger,
the club brandished by me in my fury!
I sent him against a godless nation;
I gave him commission against a people that provokes me,
to pillage and to plunder freely
and to stamp down like the mud in the streets.
But he did not intend this,
his heart did not plan it so.
No, in his heart was to destroy,
to go on cutting nations to pieces without limit.
For he has said:
‘By the strength of my own arm I have done this
and by my own intelligence, for understanding is mine;
I have pushed back the frontiers of peoples
and plundered their treasures.
I have brought their inhabitants down to the dust.
As if they were a bird’s nest, my hand has seized
the riches of the peoples.
As people pick up deserted eggs
I have picked up the whole earth,
with not a wing fluttering,
not a beak opening, not a chirp.’
Does the axe claim more credit than the man who wields it,
or the saw more strength than the man who handles it?
It would be like the cudgel controlling the man who raises it,
or the club moving what is not made of wood!
And so the Lord of Hosts is going to send
a wasting sickness on his stout warriors;
beneath his plenty, a burning will burn
like a consuming fire.
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.’
“… for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike”
Do you ever get the feeling sometimes that whatever you do, you’re just spinning the wheels for other people, that all your toil is for nothing? Lately, I can’t help but get the sense that all the hard work I’ve poured into things has been for nought. When you give your best effort for people who are at best, ungrateful, at worst callous, rude and entitled, at some point you’re going to reach burnout. You’re going to ask yourself “Why?”. “Why should I take the high road when all I get is complaining, comparison and criticism?” “Why do I try so hard when all they do is find fault, when they constantly remind me of how miserable they are?” At some point, you’re going to draw the line. You’ll revolt. If you persevere and continue to put up with it, your body will do the revolting for you and you’ll fall ill. Either which way, something is going to happen to take you out of the game. It could be at work, at home, with extended family, with your own family. Imbalance finds a way to unwind itself, usually with painful consequences.
It’s a little ironic that the Gospel reading today comes right before Christ’s famous verse from Matthew, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Because the message of today’s gospel is about the gift of revelation, and Christ’s burden was anything but light. He carried the burden of all our sin on his shoulders, and as he marched onward to his death, he saw us for the weak, flawed, disappointing individuals that we were. God reveals wisdom to the few, and typically while they’re in the throes of great injustice and impossible circumstances. He’ll give you searing insights when you’re at your lowest point. You’ll have tremendous clarity of thought about yourself and the people around you. Like an out-of- body experience, you’ll find out who your real friends are, the ones you can count on, not the ones who wring their hands in helplessness or worse, the ones who berate you for not thinking of them or their feelings. “…For although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike”. God tells us that if our faith is childlike, as Christ was childlike on the way to his crucifixion, all will be revealed to us. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Maybe this is the essence of that ‘enlightenment’ which Jesus speaks of, that lightness of being that comes amidst great pain and suffering. You hurt, you suffer, your eyes are opened, you see, you gain knowing, you understand… and then you let it go.
I’m at that point right now with a lot of things – physically drained, emotionally exhausted, at the end of my rope. I’ve started to have searing insights into the people around me; some of it good, most of it not so much. So this is what Christ must have felt – that deep sorrow for his circumstances, the disappointment in the people he loved, whom he thought loved him back. I hurt, I suffer, my eyes are opened, I see, I know, I understand… now to let it go?
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next (source : The Serenity Prayer)
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for Christ, who tasted the bitterness of disappointment and despair, so we would have someone to hold on to when we ourselves were faced with it.