It’s time to grow
Tuesday in the first week of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-8; Luke 10:21-24
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “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; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
From the Paedagogus (Book I) of Clement of Alexandria
In the same way, therefore, we also, repenting of our sins, renouncing our iniquities, purified by baptism, speed back to the eternal light, children to the Father. Jesus therefore, rejoicing in the spirit, said, “I thank you, O Father, God of heaven and earth, that you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes;” the Master and Teacher applying the name babes to us, who are readier to embrace salvation than the wise in the world, who, thinking themselves wise, are inflated with pride. And he exclaims in exultation and exceeding joy, as if lisping with the children, “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in your sight.” Wherefore those things which have been concealed from the wise and prudent of this present world have been revealed to babes.
The Gospel is not complicated. It does not require sophistication to understand, and the most worldly, sophisticated people in the world may struggle the most when it comes to the Good News of God in Christ. This is the message Jesus teaches. But we should not become prideful about this, about our place as Jesus’ followers, not least because it would be profoundly ironic.
Jesus refers to his followers — and to us, modern readers — as babes. This suggests, I think, that we need to grow, to develop, to consume something more complex than what St. Paul calls “spiritual milk” in our life of faith. We have to learn to eat rich “spiritual food.” We are, in other words, meant to grow up. We are meant to grow into the full stature of Christ.
This is not merely about filling our heads with facts. It is not about becoming wise as our world understands wisdom. Rather, I think we are meant first and foremost to be open to transformation. We study the scriptures not just to learn the stories, but to be changed by the Word. We serve the needs of the world not just to help others, but to serve Jesus Christ himself and to be transformed. We join in corporate worship not just to go through the motions, but to be fed and nourished by the Sacraments. Change and growth are the point, but to do that, we have to see ourselves first as babes. We have to know that it’s time to grow.
Photo by yours truly of a 12th century mosaic at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.