Lectionary Reflection for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 11:25-30:

Jesus adds insult to injury by thanking the Father for hiding the secrets of the kingdom from the wise and intelligent but revealing them to infants. Jesus will later use children to answer the disciples’ question concerning who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:1–5).

Only by becoming like children, only by being humbled like a child, will we recognize those greatest in heaven. Intelligence and wisdom are often names for the power and violence employed to sustain our illusions of superiority.

In 1 Cor. 1:18–31 Paul tells us that God choose the cross to “destroy the wisdom of the wise.” Paul directs the Corinthians’ attention to their own selves, pointing out that most of them are not wise by human standards or of noble birth. They were chosen not because they are strong, but because they were, in the world’s eyes, weak and foolish.

Paul is not suggesting that Christians ought to try to be weak or foolish in order to show that they are Christian, but rather that their weakness or their foolishness is only fruitful as a witness to the cross. The cross, moreover, is the deepest wisdom of God.

Jesus, like Paul, is not suggesting that we try to be infants, but rather as those engrafted into the kingdom, we in fact are infants. We are just beginners, dependent on Jesus and one another for our very survival; we become a “new creation,” in Paul’s language.

That the deaf, the mute, the blind, the poor, those rendered helpless in the face of suffering, recognize Jesus is not accidental. To be disabled does not make one a faithful follower of Christ, but it puts you in the vicinity of the kingdom. To be disabled is to be forced to have the time to recognize that Jesus is the inauguration of a new time constituted by prayer. To be disabled is to begin to understand what it means to be an infant vis-à-vis the kingdom brought by Jesus.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.