All things have been handed to me

Anthony Zimmerman
For Catholicmind
March 20, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

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 (Matt 11:27).

Chrysostom, Sermon 38 on Matthew, observes that the words of Jesus point to Himself and to the Father as one in being, that is "to prevent thine imagining two unoriginate Gods. Since, that He was at the same time both begotten, and Lord of all, He declares in many ways, and in other places also."

As Son of God, Christ created alt things together with the Father and the Spirit.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being (John 1:1-3).

But we note that Jesus is speaking here as the Son of God who is also now man. To the One born in Bethlehem God had handed over the government of the cosmos. But Christ will earn a new title and power to govern this cosmos by His actions as our Savior. We read therefore in Paul that when the God-man has done His work as Savior, then He will hand the cosmos back to the Father:

For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "All things are put in subjection," it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:27-28).

Christ did not only receive the cosmos by divine decree, He also merited His power to rule by His life on earth, and especially by His passion and death. Therefore He spoke with a new sense of sovereignty over all things created when He had completed His sojourn on earth and was about to ascend into heaven:

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt 28:18-29).

We recognize this new power humbly when we bend the knee and say "We adore thee O Christ and we praise thee, because by thy holy cross thou hast redeemed the world.

Chrysostom emphasizes the point that it is Christ who now rules the world: "All things are delivered unto me of my Father." And to them that are rejoicing, because the devils obey them, "Nay, why marvel," saith He. "that devils yield to you? All things are mine; "All things are delivered unto me" (Sermon 38).

Do we puzzle about the tsunami in Indonesia? Speak to Christ about it. Do we ponder about the absolute values of the natural law - the Ten Commandments, the ban on contraception, on sodomy, on abortion? Then look to Christ to learn the wisdom of these guidelines for human living. Christ also looks to us to dig deep, with Him, into the eternal wisdom that upholds human welfare through these ordinances. Sympathize also with Him for the disregard of so many for the laws that He upholds. He sees how breaking these laws offend God, and to save us from the consequences - human misery in this life, eternal hell-fire for the unrepentant in the next - He takes our offenses upon Himself and becomes the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, to justify us before the throne of God. For He is the eternal High Priest, now sitting at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for us:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:15-16).

With condescending kindness Christ seeks our company in His work as High Priest. Could you not watch one hour with me, He admonished the sleepy apostles during His agony in the Garden. "Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt 26:40-41). Their company, their sympathy, their willingness to participate in His sufferings meant much to Him, as it does today. This request of Jesus has inspired Lenten penance among the faithful throughout the centuries, as well as holy hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

The words "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" (Matt 11:27) are profound, telling us that He shares all knowledge with the Father because the Trinitarian knowledge is one and the same for all three Persons. Furthermore, He is the mediator of all religious commerce between God and mankind. It is He who reveals God to man. It is He, and He alone, Who opens our minds with His light to make God known to us.

"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30).

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Not this or that person, but all that are in anxiety, in sorrows, in sins. Come, not that I may call you to account, but that I may do away your sins; come, not that I want your honor, but that I want your salvation. "For I," saith He, "will give you rest." He said not, "I will save you," only; but what was much more, "I will place you in all security."...

And this moreover experience itself proves. For nothing so weighs upon the soul, and presses it down, as consciousness of sin; nothing so much gives it wings, and raises it on high, as the attainment of righteousness and virtue...

The same preacher then turns his attention to sinners of his day:

5. But that virtue's yoke is sweet and light, is manifest many other ways also; but to conclude, if you please, let us look also at the burdens of sin. Let us then bring forward the covetous, the retailers and second-hand dealers in shameless bargains. What now could be a heavier burden than such transactions? how many sorrows, how many anxieties, how many disappointments, how many dangers, how many plots and wars, daily spring up from these gains? how many troubles and disturbances?

Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series: Volume X, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

Note that Christ does not deny that we are carrying heavy burdens. He recognizes the fact. He sees the burdens of the victims of the Indonesian tsunami, for example. He invites all to "come to me," when they feel the need of help. He will then help us to carry the burden. But we need to be humble and recognize that God is God and we are His creatures. We do this by taking up the burden, not by rebelling against it. Jesus will help us to become gentle and humble whenever we do as He says: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn fm me." He promises to give us rest. He does not promise to take all burdens away, but He makes that very precious promise that He will give us rest when we come to Him with our burdens.

Let us read once more the sage advice of Chrysostom:

And how, some one may say, is the burden light, when He saith, "Except one hate father and mother;" and, "Whosoever taketh not up his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me:" and, "Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple:" when He commands even to give up our very life? Let Paul teach thee, saying, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" And that, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." Let those teach thee, who return from the council of the Jews after plenty of stripes, and "rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ." ...

For nothing so weighs upon the soul, and presses it down, as consciousness of sin; nothing so much gives it wings, and raises it on high, as the attainment of righteousness and virtue.