Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A July 6,2014
Jesus declares, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” The pinnacle of this is the handing over of “the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead.” Christ assures us that what the Father has handed over to him is the ability to console those “who labor and are burdened.” These things of heaven are “revealed to little ones” because they refuse to rely on themselves, and thus they remain best disposed to receive all that God is eager to give. They “rejoice heartily” and “shout for joy” at the coming of our meek King who, by his very presence, “proclaims peace to the nations.”
Heavenly Father, We thank You for all your blessings and for your love which Jesus has brought to us. O God, You have wonderfully created us and even more marvelously restored us through the death of Jesus, grant that by His sacrifice, we may share in His divinity. In His Name, we pray. Amen.
ZEC 9:9-10 – See, your king comes to you humbly.
Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,
shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king shall come to you;
a just savior is he,
meek, and riding on an ass,
on a colt, the foal of an ass.
He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,
and the horse from Jerusalem;
the warrior’s bow shall be banished,
and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.
His dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
The word of the Lord.
PS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14
R/ (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
R/ I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R/ I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R/ I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R/ I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
ROM 8:9, 11-13– If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Brothers and sisters:
You are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Consequently, brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.
The word of the Lord.
Mt 11:25-30 – I am meek and humble of heart
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“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. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. 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 Gospel of the Lord.
Let us recall how much Jesus has done for us in order to win us back to Himself and the Father. Jesus died for us on the Cross for a reason – not only to save us but to show us how to love, so that by His witness we may likewise be able to love perfectly. Being yoked to Christ means to rely on Him, to give Him our burdens and to accept the real need of walking with Him, side by side and hand in hand.
Today, Jesus is once more reminding us that He is waiting for us to walk with Him in His love. He is patiently watching us to turn away from our perspective that we can be self-made and be made whole through own efforts. But rather He wants us to live according to His will and be empowered by His Spirit so that we may not only be able to live in His love, but love others with His true and sincere love. So that we may in time be able to dedicate our lives to Him and His people with a love that endures and forgives. So that we may experience life to the full and be filled with nothing less than His divine will and love.
Let us ask ourselves: How yoked are we to Christ? Has serving God and His people become a burden especially when we do not get any kind of recognition for our work? Jesus said: “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.”
Is our experience close to what Jesus has declared? If not, we have to seek His guidance in prayer and in total surrender to his will, gaze into His Sacred Heart. Jesus will lead us to fullness of joy that is beyond compare.
One of the most common problems in any relationship is the inability of one to hear the message of another. One may receive the words but miss the message. One may tend to hear only what one wants to hear and block off anything that does not fit into one’s thinking, philosophy and way of life. This was exactly what transpired among the early Jews, the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ day and which still applies to some of us today. This is the reason God often finds children better listeners than the smartest of men. This is why the smartest and wise among men miss the Word that gives life. Jesus Himself said: “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 the childlike.”
A child, simple and innocent, who is not affected by the cares of the world is fully dependent on a parent. He abides by the parent’s will and is obedient. That is why he hears, comprehends and positively responds to a loving parent. On the other hand, a wise and learned man usually is focused on himself, his plans and agenda. They usually get in the way and prevent him from hearing what can resolve certain issues that are deep down in his heart. At times, he tends to intellectualize and puts reason ahead of his faith. He chooses to journey with Jesus yet he could not give Him a comfortable ride, much more give Him the driver’s seat. He makes it impossible for our Lord to touch him with His Word and the daily miracles that He works in him.
Today Jesus is patiently waiting for us to respond to his long-standing call and invitation. How many of those invitations have we missed? How many of those invitations have we disregarded and pretended were non- existent? How many times have we turned back and ignored our Lord’s outstretched hand?
If we remove our focus on ‘self’ and open our hearts and our lives to the Spirit, we would certainly see Jesus and His works. We will hear His words and follow Him. We would recognize that He is calling us to a life with Him, to repent and be healed by Him. We would realize that just as He wants to reveal to us the Father, heal us and make us whole, He invites us to pursue the same endeavor for Him so that every man will have the chance of knowing and loving God, be healed and made whole.
Giving our lives to Christ will enable us to live life to the fullest. Work for the propagation of His command to love. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.
Heavenly Father, You are my Strength and with You I am complete. In Jesus, I always hope and pray. Amen.
Reflection 2: Come to Me!
A fisherman is out to sea and an old bottle comes alongside his rickety boat. He picks it up, opens it and, lo and behold, a genie pops out! The genie says, “Thank you for giving back my freedom! As a reward, I will grant you three wishes.” The man was ecstatic. “That’s great!” he says. “First, I want one billion dollars in a Swiss bank.” Poof! There is a flash of light and a piece of paper from a Swiss bank with account number and a billion dollars on it appears in his hand! Now he is a billionaire! Then he continues, “I’m tired of this old fishing boat. I want a brand new luxury yacht, with a helicopter on its deck.” Poof! There is a flash of light and a luxury yacht appears right next to his old boat! “And, finally, I want to be irresistible to women.” Poof! There is a flash of light … and he turns into a box of chocolates! Truly irresistible! (Anon).
The folly of greed! It looks like he didn’t realize that a billion dollars and a luxury yacht are enough to make him irresistible to women. Indeed, greed can make a person lose his common sense and right judgment. This is what the Lord is pointing out in the Gospel this Sunday. “I give praise to you, Father, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike” (Mt 11:25). Only those people whose hearts are simple and humble, like that of a little child, are able to discover what can give true and lasting happiness.
Obviously, not too many people are like that. The spirit of materialism, hedonism and egoism in these times has afflicted most of us. Hence, many people nowadays do not anymore know when to say, “Enough is enough”. And so they go on acquiring and accumulating material things, to the point of unbridled and irrational excess.
There are people who own and maintain four houses, and they are only three in the family. Even if each one takes one house, there is still one house vacant. A family has five cars, but only two family members know how to drive. No matter how good you are in driving, you cannot drive two cars simultaneously. And of course, there are those who have a lot of money in the bank more than they can spend their entire life, and still they fiercely struggle to have more money. Where will all these money go? These people already have more than enough, and yet they still want more. Isn’t it the height of foolishness?
Lest we think that this concerns only the rich, look again. Ordinary people suffer the same ailment. How many have left their well paying jobs at home to work abroad? They risked family life to run after greener pastures. And the children grow up without parental love and guidance. Hence, the famous Filipino adage, “Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo?” Or better still, “Aanhin pa ang damo, kung ang anak mo ay mayroon nang shabu?” How many of us cannot give quality time to our family, who find no time to take a meaningful rest, because we are practically enslaved by our work and career? There is a quotation that says, “People spend their health to gain wealth; then they spend their wealth to regain their health.” Isn’t this foolishness?
Blessed Mother Teresa accurately diagnosed the situation of the world: “I think today the world is upside down, and is suffering so much because there is very little love in the home, and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other, there is no time to enjoy each other… Love begins at home; love lives in homes, and that is why there is so much suffering and so much unhappiness in the world today…Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”
Let us learn the lesson. St. Augustine learned it just in time. And he concluded, “My soul is restless until it rests in you, O Lord!” This world cannot give us real and lasting happiness. Let us be wise enough to realize that it is only in God that we will find true peace, happiness and eternal riches. It is time to worship and serve the Creator, and not the creatures; to strive for eternal heavenly treasures, and not the passing worldly treasures. It is time to live as little children – simple, humble, and totally dependent on God – in order to discover the mysteries of God’s Kingdom.
Hence, in the Gospel, Jesus invites us: “Come to me, all you who labor and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Running after all these worldly things is truly an exercise in futility. And so we find life frustrating and burdensome. The Lord now invites us to an intimate and meaningful personal relationship with Him. He is still in charge of the world. He is in charge of our life. Worrying is simply pointless: “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles; it takes away today’s peace.” (Anon). More importantly, it reveals how little is our faith in God, and how distant we are from Him.
This, then, is a clear invitation for us to slow down. Let us resist the temptation to join the mad rush in this world’s rat race. There is more to life than speed. As the saying goes, “The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” (Anon). This is also an invitation for us to a life of simplicity. Happiness does not consist in having more, but in being contented with what we have. Interestingly, the Spanish word for “happy” is “contento”.
Jesus invites us, “Come to me!” And He waits (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road, Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422).
Reflection 3: Jesus, meek and humble of heart
Purpose: Today’s readings provide one of the most wonderful opportunities, in the three-year Sunday cycle, for preachers to awaken, foment, and nourish, among their listeners, that personal love of our Savior which, as recent popes have consistently emphasized, is central to “the Joy of the Gospel,” and thus for the “new evangelization” of our traditionally Christian, but now radically secularized, culture. Today’s Gospel (Mt. 11: 25-30) is a key biblical text underlying devotion to, and worship of, Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart; indeed, it was also the Gospel reading for that Solemnity just nine days ago. Since the great majority of worshipers this weekend will not have attended that Friday Mass, we recommend homilies that strongly promote this devotion: Make today an unofficial “Sacred Heart Sunday”!
Readings: Zec 9:9-10 ● Rom 8:9, 11-13 ● Mt 11:25-30
Today’s Scripture readings bring to light one of the sublime paradoxes of the Gospel: the surpassing greatness of the true God, as he is revealed to us in Christ, is shown precisely in his littleness, his gentleness, his humility. Clearly, these are qualities made possible for an eternal and almighty Creator only through the mystery of the Incarnation.
Thus, in the first reading from Zechariah’s prophecy, Israel, personified as the “daughter of Zion,” is given a vision that is to be fulfilled centuries later on Palm Sunday: the Savior king comes to his people as one who is “meek, and riding on an ass.” It is a vision in which Israel “rejoices heartily”—a rejoicing that has now cascaded its way to a permanent place in Christian culture ever since G.F. Handel immortalized Zechariah’s words in a radiant, soaring soprano aria of his great oratorio, “Messiah.” That same cultural heritage led to another moment of dramatic symbolism when, in 1917, the Holy City was captured from the Turks and came under the control of a Christian power for the first time since the crusading era. The British commander, General Edmund Allenby, had a deep respect for Jerusalem’s sacred heritage, and was unwilling to make his own entry in a manner similar to that of the “King of Kings.” Thus, on December 11, 1917, eschewing all elevation upon the backs of horses, or even donkeys, Allenby and his men made their formal entry into the conquered city on foot and in silence. Exactly eight years later, Pope Pius XI promulgated his great encyclical, Quas Primas, on the rightful sovereignty of Christ over every human society.
Christianized societies, too, have often fallen very short of Gospel teachings in their communal behavior. Nevertheless, what a contrast there is between this holy joy elicited by the Messianic King’s example of simplicity and modesty compared to the fierce, undisguised accolades to power, pride, and violence that, in every age, greet boastful displays of worldly pagan might! The spirit of a typical Roman conqueror’s processional triumph through the streets of the capital in early Christian times, dragging slaves and doomed captives behind his chariot in degraded humiliation, seems very little different from the spirit which, two millennia later, animated Hitler’s gargantuan Nazi rallies at Nuremberg, or Stalin’s parades through Red Square, that showcased endless rows of a Soviet arsenal portending massive death and destruction.
Today’s Gospel builds on Zechariah’s exhortation to rejoice in the quiet meekness of Israel’s King. For here we find our Lord praising the Father, precisely for having revealed the secrets of the Kingdom to “little ones”—the lowly and unlettered—rather than to the wise and learned. In fact, we learn from Luke’s account of this same incident (10: 21) that Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” as he lifted up this praise to God the Father. It seems significant that this is the only moment recorded in any of the Gospels in which we are explicitly told that our Lord rejoiced. This passage thus reveals to us something that lies deep within the Sacred Heart of Jesus: his profound longing to identify in a special way with the least of those brethren whose human nature he has come to share: humble working men and women, including sinners (“strayed sheep”), children, and those who are poor, sick, suffering, outcast—in short, all those who are not great and important in the eyes of the world.
This meekness of the Messiah King leads to a deeper appreciation of the central paradox of Christ’s Gospel —the Incarnation. The one whose human heart is filled with joy as he shares the lot of these “little ones” is, at the same time, the One whose eternal nature is infinitely higher than theirs! In this one short, but sublime, Gospel text we see both the “heights” and the “depths” of Jesus’ unique identity. In language that is rare in the Synoptics, but very similar to that of St. John’s Gospel, our Lord implicitly affirms his own divinity. He claims a unique reciprocal relationship with the Father, who has handed over to him “all things”: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son.” Only God can intuitively know the depths of God.
And yet, this Son of God—so far above us in his divine nature—shows us the full extent of what divine love is really like by coming down to our level. Precisely because he has shared our own burdens—even death on a Cross!—in the weakness of human flesh, the one who is “meek and humble of heart” is able to give us real, and not merely, verbal, comfort and “rest” in our sufferings, thus lightening that “burden” and “yoke” which he himself asks of us as a condition of discipleship.