Year A 14th Sunday: Mt:11,1

We already spoke about the pictures which belong to the Gospel text of today. The 7th of June (Trinity Sunday) we looked at the picture illustrating Matthew 11:25-27; the 29th of March (5th Sunday of Lent) we looked at Matthew 11:28-30. That gives us the opportunity today to look at a picture illustrating a text which doesn’t occur in the Sunday readings.
Matthew 11:1
11:1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples
he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.

Context & Information
Matthew’s Gospel contains five sermons of Jesus:
1. 05-07 The Sermon on the Mount
2. 10 The Sermon about Mission
3. 13 Parables about God’s Kingship
4. 18 The Sermon about Community Life
5. 24-25 Parables about the End of Times.

Every time Matthew ends these sermons in the same way, ‘And it happened, that when Jesus had completed...’ (07:28; 11:01; 13:53; 19:01; 26:01). Every time Matthew announces what ‘happened’  after Jesus’ words. His words become history, facts. In the Bible the word ‘and it happened’ or ‘And it came to pass’ (Greek: ‘kai egeneto’) is very important. It indicates that God’s words become history, facts; that He is writing his history through our every day history: Salvation History.

In Matthew 11:1 Jesus has ‘completed’ his so-called Mission Speech (Matthew 10). Now I expect that Jesus will indeed send his disciples among the people, and that we hear how they will do what Jesus told them to do. But that isn’t the case. He himself continues to speak, but now in ‘their’ towns. The towns of the disciples? So he is preaching instead of them?

Picture Meditation

In the centre I see Jesus - clothed in red - speaking to his disciples. The one below is Saint Peter, to be recognised by his round shaved hair and beard. I see six others. Most of them seem to listen with their eyes closed.

How do I listen to Jesus’ words? When the Gospel is read during the Mass? When I am meditating on my own? With closed eyes as well?

Looking clockwise around the central circle I see how one day of Jesus’ life is pictured. From the early morning (the sun top right) till the late evening (the moon top left) he is on his way to preach and to teach. Every time he is the red figure.

Top right he is preaching to three persons. What is he saying to them? If I would have been one of these three figures, why did I come to Jesus to hear him?

Next I have the impression that Jesus turns around to speak a last word to his audience. Then there is a twisted path. At the end of this path I see Jesus taking a moment of rest. Or personal prayer?

Bottom right I see him preaching again. Now inside a house. Again there are three persons who listen to him. Again a small group. How often do we count how many persons come to church? How often is that number a source of consolation or desolation for us? I try to keep in mind that Jesus does not preach for numbers but for people with a heart; people who have the possibility to transform Jesus’ words into acts of love and charity. Jesus preaches a God who has a personal relationship with each of them, each of us. Then even one can be enough.

Bottom left I see a bigger group. Apparently in the street. Here some people seem to react or to cry with open arms. What are they crying? What does the gesture of their arms mean? Are they asking for something? Praying? Or protesting? How do I receive Jesus’ words?

In the middle row left Jesus is preaching again. I see two listeners. Again a very small group.
Top left he is preaching for an audience (a family?) of four persons.

Finally we find him alone between evening and morning... I am looking at his right hand. Is he still talking? To whom?

Considering the whole picture I ask myself if Jesus preaches using the same words every time? Or is every new situation a challenge to find new words?
How tired he must have been after such a day.

In the introduction I asked myself if Jesus was preaching instead of his disciples. I imagine myself to be such a disciple. Do I learn from him to speak about the things of God?

I have a talk with one of the apostles in the centre or/and with one or more people from the various audiences.
I can have several talks with Jesus. During or after each of the preaching scenes. Finally I have a talk with the lonely Jesus between moon and sun.

Meditation by Fr Dries van den Akker S.J