Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalm 45:11-18 or Song of Solomon 2:8-13; (or Zechariah 9:9-12; Psalm 145:8-15); Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
“Just as a fire is covered by smoke and a mirror is obscured by dust, just as the embryo rests deep within the womb, wisdom is hidden by selfish desire.” – Bhagavad Gita
The first part of this Gospel starts out with children piping a ditty, and no one does the jig. So they change the tune to a dirge, and no one grieves. This graphic metaphor was Jesus’ take on his generation. Not much has changed. We are still often out of step, blind to the wisdom of the moment. We fear violence, so we go to war instead of dancing for peace. We have poor and abused people all around us, but we don’t weep because we are preoccupied with balancing the budget. We miss the middle, midpoint of wisdom, because of our left or right purisms. Ditty or dirge, our selfish desires prevent us from humming the right tune.
The second part of this Gospel tells us that all is not lost. The repository of wisdom has been revealed to infants. It is safe. Infants have simplified needs. Needs indeed, but note the simplicity. We in our sophistication confuse needs and desires. Many a person has prayed sincerely for wisdom without simplifying their lives. We can’t have one without the other. It’s as if we were to say we can’t open the door. Duh, try the doorknob. It’s not locked. It’s simple, but we are not. We are weary of heavy complicated burdens that need to be jettisoned. The good news is that even before we figure it all out we can turn to Jesus whose yoke is easy. There we find rest for ourselves. (see Greek below) Just pick up the infant and change the diaper. Simple.
Almost all translations of Matthew 11:29 read “find rest for your souls.” The word “soul” has dualistic overtones as if it is something we have or possess. It sounds like we ourselves on the one hand have souls, separate from ourselves, something we possess rather than it being our very selves. This is a semantic problem rather than an essential problem. But the Greek word used here (psyche) in its root meaning carries the sense of “self” or “life.” Jesus is saying that we will find rest for “ourselves,” or for “our lives.”
Weary and heavy
by wisdom deprived burdens,
infant made simple.