12th Thursday in Ordinary Time
2 Kings 24 8 – 17; Ps 79; Matthew 7: 21 – 29
“When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished by His teaching for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.”
As recounted by the evangelists, on more than one occasion the reaction to Jesus’ teaching was amazement, astonishment, being spellbound, captivated by His words and certainly by His very person. Totally unlike the leaders, the scribes, Jesus did not talk down to the people, did not “lord it over them”; His authority was that of love, compassion, mercy – perhaps, the crowd did not describe His authority in those terms, nevertheless they felt, they sensed these in their hearts.
In His humanity, I believe Jesus was very gratified by their reaction because, in a way, it made up for the animosity, the confrontations, the repeated testings by the leaders. But, Jesus, who knew the human heart, would never trust the duration of these feelings nor allow Himself to live on these reactions, to be caught up in any kind of adulation.
Jesus knew that amazement, astonishment and the like can easily wear off and not lead to true belief. Recall the parable of the sower: “Part of the seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprouted at once since the soil had no depth, but when the sun rose and scorched it, it began to wither for lack of roots.” (Matthew 13)
Unless the word of the Lord is heard, embraced and taken into the heart, it soon withers for lack of depth. This is an important teaching for our own spiritual journey; our experiences of consolation, of peace, of joy, of being captivated are graces from God never as ends in themselves. These are meant to lead us deeper into our relationship with the Lord, to change our hearts, to bring us to sincere conversion.
Only when these movements are truly present and desired in our hearts, can we truly call Jesus, our Lord, our Teacher and Master.