Today’s Gospel passage is half of a passage (tomorrow is the other half) that we have heard twice before in recent weeks. It is also the most common passage used for the Anointing of the Sick.
Jesus says, “for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”
What does it mean that these things are hidden from the wise and learned? What does it mean to be childlike?
The root Greek word used for wise, “σοφός,” has a connotation of one who has become skilled with a certain store of knowledge. It means an expert in their field. While Matthew does not use a word that fully singles out the Jewish religious experts, Jesus is clearly referring to them here. The more generic phrasing, though, allows the expression to apply to anyone who thinks he or she already has all of the answers. It can refer to anyone who is not simple, trusting, and open to the word of God.
The childlike is the one who is docile before God. This is a person who is not convinced that he or she has nothing left to learn. This is someone who is open to hearing the word of God and to being directed by the Holy Spirit to do the will of God.
What does it look like in the secular realm when someone stubbornly and foolishly believes that they have all of answers? I remember a co-worker who drove to a microwave tower site after a snowstorm. The access road was covered over with a snow drift. He decided to try to drive through it, and he buried his truck in the drift. Thankfully, a nearby work crew had a winch that they used to pull him out. So, he jumped back in truck and said, “I know I can make it this time.” And he buried his truck yet again. And he was pulled out again. Despite his prior failures, he started to jump back in the truck to do it yet again. The foreman of the nearby crew physically stopped him and ordered him to turn around and go back.
How open are we to the word of God? How open are we to the teachings of God as given to us by the Church? Can we recognize stubbornness in our own lives where we refuse to listen to God speaking to us?