Mid-week Reflection (Matthew 11:25-27) [15th July 2020]
I am often asked how I fell in love with my wife, due to the fact that the life I had before was not the best situation to do it, on the contrary. The questions do not stop here. The curiosity about how we decided to get married immediately follows. The reality is that I have never been able to give an exhaustive and, it seems, satisfactory answer for those who asked. What’s worse is that I didn’t find a sufficiently satisfactory answer for myself either.
I reread my diaries from those years several times. I found some reflections about what I was feeling, about what I was dreaming about, but most of the time I only noted what was happening, as an event, nothing more. I didn’t find a key answer to help me formulate an answer like: how I fell in love with my wife and how I decided to marry her, in a few words, as they asked in interviews. Yes, I was asked about this when I first met a director for vocations, when I met with various bishops, and in various interviews on various occasions. Most of the time I answered that I can’t explain, but I just can tell them a part of the story, as long as time allowed.
Besides the fact that many were disappointed, some of them suggested explanations to me. I had the experience to be offered to accept a possible explanation even in extremely vulgar forms. How did I feel then? It does not matter any more. But it challenged me to dive even deeper into the beginning of my relationship with my wife. And so I ended up wondering why I love her, to formulate a somewhat short and satisfying answer. The same situation. All sorts of moments in our lives together came to mind, but they didn’t help me formulate the right answer. Last time, seriously, I tried to formulate such an answer when I was licensed in the place where I work now. I was told that I should talk more about my relationship with Cornelia (or Mica, as I call her, my wife), because people are wondering about it and some may already have all sorts of assumptions.
I do not remember what I responded to that invitation, but it is certain that I did not talk about anything more than before about our relationship and love. I can tell stories about it, but one problem remains: I can’t explain because I don’t understand either. I just know that we live together, we love each other and that’s about it. Is our relationship perfect? No, but we enjoy it. Is the way we fell in love with each other perfect? No, but we’re in love. And I don’t know how many believe me, but many times, even very many times, we wonder that we are together and that we love each other. We do not find satisfactory answers, but even with all the mystery, maybe that’s why I feel it’s a great gift. No more unanswered questions. Let’s listen to Jesus.
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants” (Matthew 11:25b), says Jesus in front of his disciples and the disciples of John the Baptist. Jesus chose his disciples from among those who accepted his teaching. Jesus invites his contemporaries to rejoice that the time has come for their prayers and those of their forefathers to begin to be fulfilled. Some accept and rejoice. Others simply reject him. Others want clarification. Jesus does not give them explanations. Jesus shows them what is happening, invites them to be part of the history that is just being written with his coming, mission and teaching.
Jesus’ answer is direct: knowing him is not possible only through an intellectual exercise. A real knowledge of Jesus is possible only by being with him, building a relationship with him, having a common history. Reading verses 5 and 6 of the same chapter, we also have the answer. Jesus makes himself known to us through what is happening around us, through his teaching, in our lives. And yet so many do not accept this direct, simple way. That causes him deep sadness (Matthew 11:20-24). For many, he remains an intruder because he does not give them the answer they want and like. Others reject him because it seems too simple the way he wants to be their friend.
And yet Jesus has something to thank His Father for. He thanks them for those who know that they cannot understand exactly who and what Jesus is, what he teaches them. That’s why they choose to have a life with him. They have the patience to stand by him, to let him speak to them in their homes, their villages and towns, in the sad or beautiful events of their lives. They have patience. They wait for what Jesus is doing at one time or another. Exactly what he does when they turn to him. In short: they begin to live with Jesus. He is not an intruder. He is one of them. He becomes part of their lives.
They have an open mind like children, who do not start a relationship by asking questions, but start with a plan on how to play with the newcomer in their midst. And so they begin to know the newcomer, never totally, but more and more.
So it is with the knowledge of Jesus. He came into our midst and we know that, no matter how many answers we receive from him, we will not be able to understand everything, but we will find out more with each moment of our life in which we let him be with us. This is a gift. Jesus thanks his Father for giving this gift to those who have accepted it. Jesus knows that people have wisdom, they can analyse nature, the world around them, they can make philosophy, they can make theories, but he knows that true knowledge is a relationship, life together. And for this we must accept that every moment is a time of grace, a time when we know each other better and can help each other more.
Considering that we know someone without accepting them as part of our lives is a presupposition, often a serious mistake that can harm us and the newcomer. Jesus expressed his sorrow because he was rejected and judged, without being allowed to show what he could offer by his presence. But, in the same time, he has a reason to thank his Father for those who remain curious and have the patience to see what Jesus will do at one time or another in their lives, in one situation or another.
(Revd. Bernard Noghiu, Sothend on Sea – 15th July 2020)