MEDITATION OF THE DAY
“I thank you, Father”
This passage has been called the “pearl” of the Gospel of Matthew. It jumps up out of the surrounding text with great power of appeal. It disrupts the usual sequence of Matthew’s narrative of Jesus’ life and deeds as a great aside; and yet this “aside” is like the lifting up of a veil that for a moment allows us to behold the Face of God. The text literally begins, “At that time, Jesus answered,” rather than “declared,” as if this prayer and dialogue were always ongoing in his life, regardless of what else is occurring at a more surface level. We see here that the relationship between Father and Son is what underlies every scene of the Gospel, and the solemn formula “at that time” stresses the way in which, in Jesus, eternity has burst into time. Regardless of what Jesus may be saying and doing externally, we here see where his Heart is always simultaneously occupied: with thanksgiving and joy in his Father, expressed in unceasing communion. When inviting us to come to him, it is more precisely to his joy in his Father that he is inviting us.
The passage begins with a prayer of Jesus to the Father that we are allowed to overhear; only then is an invitation extended to us. The marvelous thing about this man, Jesus of Nazareth, is that, when we go to him, we encounter not just a great (or even the greatest) human being, but always God his Father, “the Lord of heaven and earth.” Jesus is a window to the freedom and vastness of eternity, the entryway into the abyss of God’s trinitarian Being.
Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, now known as Father Simeon, is a Cistercian monk serving in Rome. He is the author of Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, a three-volume commentary on Matthew’s Gospel. [From The Way of the Disciple. © 2003, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. www.ignatius.com. Used with permission.]