Why We Can’t Find Jesus

User’s Guide to Sunday, July 9

Juliaan de Vriendt, Suffer the Little Children Come to Me
Juliaan de Vriendt, Suffer the Little Children Come to Me (photo: Public domain)

Sunday, July 9, is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass Readings: Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30

Sometimes we have trouble seeing Jesus in our lives. Maybe we are stressed out in a way that doesn’t match the peace he promised. Maybe we feel stretched thinner than the “abundant life” he promised. Maybe we feel we have sought but not found; that we have knocked, but the door has not been opened.

Today Jesus tells us why.

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to little ones,” he says.

The wise and learned don’t see him. Those who are not “little” do not see him.

Those busy succeeding on the world’s terms don’t see him.  Those who want to have everything their way don’t see him. The contentious, argumentative people who always have to be right don’t see him. Those who are always searching for the more comfortable, easy way to please themselves don’t see him.

Today’s first reading from Zechariah amplifies the point by reminding us who God is. “He shall banish the chariot,” a symbol of power. He will banish “the warrior’s bow,” a symbol of conflict. “His dominion shall be from sea to sea,” leaving no room for any other dominion — including those of us who try to dominate at work, at home, or in whatever room we happen to be in at any given moment.

Instead, he will come to us “meek and riding on an ass.”

He isn’t what we expect.

He doesn’t prove he is right. He doesn’t force himself on anyone. He doesn’t imperiously demand his way. He just quietly is who he is and invites us to follow him.

“You are not in the flesh,” says St. Paul in the second reading. “On the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

Those who live according to the flesh won’t follow him, because they don’t let the Spirit of God in. Those who try to impress with wealth, position or prestige, won’t follow him, because the spirit of Christ is not in them.

But he does tell us who will follow him. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus says. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

The tired see him.

The overworked see him.

Those looking for rest see him.

Those who have given up expecting the world to satisfy them are ready to look for him.

Only when we finally get in line with the “little ones” do we see Jesus.

Those who stare at their phone don’t see the sunset, those who stay in the office don’t feel the breeze, those who always have to prove themselves never get to know themselves, and those who look to the world’s comforts are restless forever.

The little ones have found the truth and true peace and purpose: “Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.”


Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College

and author of The Fatima Family Handbook.