A distinguished man once came to visit a Zen Master seeking enlightenment. The visitor began to speak to the Master about his experiences and achievements in life. He spoke at length about the degrees and diplomas he had been awarded.
As the visitor continued, the Master placed a cup before him and began filling it with tea. After the cup was filled, the Master kept pouring tea into it. The visitor quickly moved away from the overflowing cup and said “stop pouring – the cup is full. No more tea will fit in this cup.”
The Master said in reply, “like this cup, you too are overflowing with your own opinions and achievements. How can I teach you anything unless you first empty your cup?”
Today in our Gospel we hear ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.’ Who then are the learned and the clever of our Gospel? In this instance, Jesus’ address was to the scribes and Pharisees who laid claim to superior wisdom based upon their knowledge of the scripture and their own tradition. The visitor of our story at the beginning displays this egotism that Jesus often contested.
Whenever an air of arrogance is around, there is little room for anything else to abide.
Often I visit the schools and speak to the children about God. I’m always shocked at how the deep mysteries of our faith are easily accepted and nurtured by our young ones. Perhaps the most difficult moment arises when they ask simple questions that have complex answers. Who created God? Why does God let good people die? Whether they think the answer is sufficient, children would normally nod in agreement or continue to wonder with excitement and curiosity.
The child-like wonder and openness is essentially the grounds for discipleship. But often, as adults, we can easily fall into the trap of overcomplicating things when simplicity is needed. Rightly so, Jesus invites us to simplicity today in our Gospel and says, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.’ Jesus’ invitation to come to him simplifies our journey, for Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6)
Perhaps in the coming week, we too can simplify things and return to Christ who will teach us all we need to know to walk this life of faith.
Fr William Aupito Iuliano