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  • Sacred Heart Church

05.07.20 Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time




Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti

1475 –1564

The Creation of Adam

Sistine Chapel

(Vatican City)

1508–1512


The Creation of Adam is a fresco painting by Italian artist Michelangelo, which forms part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, painted c. 1508–1512. It illustrates the Biblical creation narrative from the Book of Genesis in which God gives life to Adam, the first man.

God is depicted as an elderly white-bearded Caucasian man wrapped in a swirling cloak while Adam, on the lower left, is completely naked. God's right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God's, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26).

Another point is that Adam's finger and God's finger aren't touching. It gives the impression that God, the giver of life, is reaching out to Adam who has yet to receive it.

The person protected by God's left arm represents Eve, due to the figure's feminine appearance and gaze towards Adam.

The background figures and shapes portrayed behind the figure of God appeared to be an anatomically accurate picture of the human brain.

Alternatively, it has been observed that the red cloth around God has the shape of a human uterus (one art historian has called it a "uterine mantle") and that the scarf hanging out, coloured green, could be a newly-cut umbilical cord. It presents the Creation scene as an idealised representation of the physical birth of man ("The Creation"). It explains the navel that appears on Adam, which is at first perplexing because he was created, not born of a woman.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Creation_of_Adam


Lectio

Matthew 11:25-30

25 “At that time Jesus 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; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’. 28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’”.

Meditatio

The Context

We have just read in Chapter 10 very sombre statements about persecutions and Jesus bringing fire to the earth.

This text, called “the Pearl” in the Gospel of Matthew, looks like a beam of sunlight in the middle of a storm.

Last week’s Gospel about Saint Peter’s commissioning comes later in the Gospel (Matthew 16) and in a way confirms what we read today: “Blessed are you Peter, for it was my Father who revealed these things to you”.

In Chapters 11-13 Matthew explores people’s different reactions to Jesus: some are positive, some are neutral and others are contrary to him. Jesus clarifies on the one hand who will show openness to the action of the Spirit and, on the other, who will be unable to recognize the truth that He came to bring.

The unspecified time frame “in that time” expresses the permanent disposition of the heart of Jesus turned towards God, the Father, always in an attitude of prayer and praise.

This Gospel passage contains:

a thanksgiving, a teaching and an invitation

A thanksgiving

The first words are spoken to the Father. They explain the division between the wise and learned, and the “simple hearted” (in our text translated by “infant”).

The wise and learned

In the Old Testament we find both positive and negative views about wisdom and knowledge. While the Prophets warn against the pride of the wise[1], the whole of Wisdom Literature praises the great gift God gives to the wise[2].

The prevailing mentality in the time of Jesus was that those who keep the Law of God are wise. The learned being the Pharisees and the Scribes who, with their knowledge of the Scriptures, consider that they have acquired God’s Wisdom through the study of the Torah and its strict application. No-one else knew about the mystery of God. Scribes and Pharisees know about God’s will, others just need to fulfill the norms and laws they issue as revealed by God himself[3].

The simple of heart

Saint Matthew writes his Gospel to encourage the Members of his Christian Community. He identifies them with “the simple of heart”: because, they do not pretend to know everything about God, and so, they are ready to learn more and accommodate their lives to the Gospel.

In contrast with the Pharisees and the Doctors of the Law, the “simple of heart” are:

1. Those who accept Jesus as the Messiah:

a. Even if He is not the expected revolutionary leader;

b. Even if He eats and drinks with sinners.

2. Those who feel challenged by Jesus’ message of conversion.

It may be argued that being simple hearted or being wise depends on one’s ability to understand and assimilate intellectual data. However, according to Jesus, divine Wisdom is beyond our reach[4]. Only “God has hidden these things from the learned and revealed them to the humble of heart”. As W. B. Yeats (the Irish Poet and Mystic) wrote: “Can one reach God by toil? He gives himself to the pure in heart. He asks nothing but our attention”.

This is a fact that Jesus does not try to explain or to argue: He simply accepts this as God’s design and praises the Father for those who are open to receiving His message of Salvation.

Teaching

This is a short Christological discourse in Matthew’s Gospel:

a) “All things have been handed over to me by my Father” means that whatever

Jesus does or says comes to him from the Father and in three ways:

1. Jesus judges and his judgement is right;

2. He gives his life and his self-giving is total and out of love;

3. Jesus reveals the Father.

All these will show the face of a loving and merciful Father; unlike the teaching of

the Scribes and Pharisees who teach about an omnipotent entity far from the reach

of man and alien to the lives of the poor.

b) It is possible to know the Father by looking at Jesus himself[5]. However, Jesus

says that it is impossible to know about the Son. There is always an element of

Mystery and something new to discover about Jesus; not even a deep relationship

with Him will ever exhaust knowledge about God.

Invitation to Freedom

Jesus’ self-revelation of Himself is offered to all, and is shown through his words and deeds.

While the yoke of God’s law imposed by Pharisees and Scribes becomes ever heavier and shows a distorted image of God as a severe and exacting judge, the yoke of Jesus is light and frees the disciple from the demands of the law. The person has become more important than the law.

It is suggested that this text could be translated as: “My yoke fits well”, meaning that “the life I give you is not too heavy a burden to you; your task is made to measure to fit you”. Whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities. “The burden which is given in love and carried in love is always light”[6].

The meek of heart are the non-violent Members of the community of Jesus in contrast with the violence of the Pharisees.

· The disciple comes to the experiential knowledge of the Father by contemplating

the face of the Son, and comes to the experiential knowledge of the Son as the

Father reveals Him … so that man may be definitely free from the image of an alien

and strange God.

· The disciple finds rest by imitating Jesus.

Humility is not stupidity (intellectual pride) because “the heart, not the head, is the home of the Gospel” (Pummer).

“Still to the lowly soul he does himself impart, and for his dwelling and his throne chooses the pure in heart”.

Oratio

O God, will You Restore Us

Bifrost Arts

O God, will You restore us, and grant us Your salvation?


I will hear what God proclaims

The Lord our God proclaims peace

Kindness and truth shall meet

Justice and peace shall kiss

“Here is the fast I choose –

To loosen the bonds of the oppressed and break their chains

Let righteousness and justice go out before you

Then you will call out and I will hear"

Near indeed is His salvation to those who call on Him

He will incline is ear and hear their prayers

Truth shall spring out of the earth

and Justice will rain down from heaven

The Lord will guide you on a righteous path

His vindication will shine down forth as the dawn

Your people will be called repairers of broken walls

making straight the path to proclaim His reign!

Bifrost Arts: Album: Lamentations:

Simple Songs of Lament and Hope, Vol. 1

Contemplatio

Today’s Gospel gives us a hint of Jesus’ intimacy with the Father, and of His prayer, a joyful song of praise. Can we taste a bit of the joy Jesus feels for humanity?

How much do we value the virtue of simplicity?

What does it mean for us to be “simple wo/men”?

How can I cultivate a spirit of simplicity?

“Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”. Is my heart thirsty for a deeper knowledge of the Word of God? How can I nourish that desire and grow in my spiritual journey?

We contemplate the quality of the love of God for humanity, the personal love God has for each one of us.

Jesus is the only perfect mirror where we can discover the true identity of God. The Father promised to give rest to those who come to him and bear his “yoke”. We contemplate God’s call to discipleship and what this implies for each one of us.

We contemplate how God helps us in our moments of need and how much we thirst for God’s presence when we feel his “absence”.

[1] Isa. 5:21: “Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight!” Isa. 29: 14: “so I will again do amazing things with this people, shocking and amazing. The wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden”. Jer. 9:23: “Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth”. Wisdom: 7:15: “May God grant me to speak with judgment, and to have thoughts worthy of what I have received; for he is the guide even of wisdom and the corrector of the wise”. [2] Dan. 2: 22: “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him”. Wisdom 6:12-13: “Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her”. [3] Matthew 23:4: “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them”. [4] Job 11: 7: “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?” [5] John 14:9: “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” [6] BARCLAY, William, “The Daily Study Bible. The Gospel of Matthew Vol. 2 Chapters 11-28” Revised Edition, The Saint Andrew Edition Press, 1975, USA, p. 18.

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