How to Free Yourself From the Desire to Control Everything (Gospel Reflection, Matthew 11:25)

by Faith & Life, Gospels

One of the best ways to enrich your spiritual life is to pray with scripture.

A great way of doing this is using the technique of Lectio Divina, a powerful method which we explain here. The following is the Sunday Gospel reading with a reflection that is especially aimed at youth.

This week, Fr. Piccolo reflects on Matthew 11:25-33.

We hope that it serves you in your personal prayer and that it serves as a resource that you can share with your apostolate.

Mt. 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Gospel Reflection:

“If you understand it, that is not God” – Augustine

In order to manage our anxiety, we seek understanding. Understanding, or perhaps simply deluding myself into thinking I understand, helps me feel like I can control any situation. Maybe this is why we always seem to know what others think, even before they speak. Perhaps we so rarely truly debate things because we are sure that we are always right. We are always quite sure of how things ought to be. Every time there is room for doubt and uncertainty, it becomes a crisis; we feel lost. Pretending to understand gives us a false sense of possession: possessing life, possessing others, and even possessing God.

When it is too hard for us to just accept that we don’t understand, or to control our anxiety, we welcome any prefabricated explanation to fill the void. We go to the marketplace of explanations and trust what we find or we try to simplify reality. We label others and whole situations in order to feel control over them. We think somehow that we are wise while we are blinding ourselves, making it impossible to discover the truth. This is why the falsely wise are always violent: because they are always imposing their names on things.

Preconceived ideas and easy explanations are a heavy yoke because they wear us down over time; we must work hard to maintain them even if they are not working. They become a weight we must bear around our necks. We become like oxen that are no longer free. We have no choice but to walk straight and let the yoke we are bound to drive us.

In the rabbinic tradition, the yoke was a symbol of the Law: as the yoke helps the ox to trace a straight furrow, so the Law prevents us from leaving the furrow God has traced for us. Jesus overturns this image and proposes that we take up a light yoke. Jesus replaces explanation with relation. Rather than seeking out explanations, Jesus invites us to be in relationship with Him. It’s there, with Him, that we can find the meaning of things, the meaning of another’s words, the meaning of an experience, the true value of others. It is only in the relationship with Jesus that we discover which direction to go.

If our spiritual lives are merely intellectual, perhaps that means that we are not living in a relationship with Jesus, but rather living in a hopeful quest for an explanation. But it’s exhausting to try to be a know-it-all! If we are humble we can live at ease, with the peace of one who feels that they are being cared for and looked after.

Questions for personal reflection:

  • Do you try to come up with explanations for everything to manage your anxiety?

  • Are you willing to accept that it is life itself that can show you the meaning of all things?

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