Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Today’s Gospel tells us about the Heart of Jesus. It gives us these words of comfort: Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. What do these words tell us about the Lord?  What do they mean for us? Well, they tell us something about God that is very different than the images of God we might have.  Many of our images are of the Almighty Awesome Creator of the Universe. We think of the great frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as Michelangelo portrayed God creating the universe with a dazzling display of power. But He is more than this. We often have images of God as the Judge of the living and dead. He is the One we will have to come before and present the work of our lives, not just the individual things we have done, but how well we have allowed His love to permeate the world. There is reward or punishment waiting, there is mercy and compassion, but there is also justice. But He is more than this. Jesus is meek and humble of heart. The prophet Zechariah prophesied that this is how our King would come to us[1]. And this is how Jesus presents himself in the Gospel, meek and humble of heart. What does it mean to be meek? To be meek is to be patient and gentle. It is not the surrender of rights or some form of cowardice, but the opposite of sudden anger, of malice and of long harbored vengeance. Jesus is meek.  He is not waiting for the right time to strike us down for what we have done to Him, how we have attacked His Holiness with our sins, how we have attacked those whom He loves, or how we have put him out of our lives.  He is gentle.  He is patient with us[2].

Jesus is humble of heart. A proud person sees the universe revolving around him or her.  If there is an offense, the proud person refuses to forgive. “Who does he think that he is?” the proud person asks. He or she is not concerned with returning the sinner to love.  His or her only concern is with vengeance, getting the sinner back for the offense. That is not the way of the Lord. He is humble of heart. His concern is not with how He has been offended.  His concern is with the sinner and returning him or her to love.

What does all this mean to us?  It means that we need to give Jesus our burdens. This is more than the difficulties of life, sickness, marriage or family problems, etc. Yes, we give these to the Lord, but there is more than this that He wants. He wants us to give Him all that is keeping us from Him. Perhaps there are sinful hidden closets in our lives. We are ashamed.  Perhaps there is some form of substance abuse. Perhaps there is some form of sexual immorality. Perhaps we have difficulty forgiving those who have hurt us. Maybe we have committed serious sins. We had an abortion or we convinced another to have an abortion. Often we are not as afraid of bringing our sins to the priest in confession, as we are afraid that God is never going to forgive us. We have attacked Him, willingly and knowingly. How can we seek forgiveness? So we think that we are condemned to go through life carrying these burdens only to wait for everlasting punishment after we die. No, the Lord says, Give me your burdens, come to me for I am meek and humble of heart.  He is saying, “I am not so offended that I am shutting off mercy and compassion.  I am not concerned about myself.  I am concerned about you.  I suffered on the cross for you.  Give me your burdens.  I want them, no matter how ugly, how messy they may be.”

And then the Lord says, And you will find rest for yourselves, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. The burden of being a Christian, as demanding as it is, is light next to the burden of carrying our sins to the grave and beyond. Following the way of holiness, being separate from what others consider normal life, is so much easier than being part of the crowd that exalts in its immorality. Holiness is being different.  Holiness is accepting the way of the Lord.

I am sure that you have heard this quote from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI many times, but it bears repeating: “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”  Every one of us was created for greatness. To achieve this greatness means that there are times that we have to reject the comfort of the world. There are times that we have to be are out and out uncomfortable. We are mocked for our faith and our morality. We are mocked for our refusing to live for ourselves. We are mocked because we know that marriage is sacred and live that way. We are mocked because we know that we have to avoid certain associates, certain places, certain parties, etc because we know that they can destroy us.  We are mocked because we are not part of the crowd. This is not comfortable. But we were not created for comfort.  We were not created to be part of the crowd.  We were created for greatness.  That is the burden that is the yoke that Jesus calls us to accept in today’s Gospel. It is so much easier to carry the burden of the Lord then to carry the burden of sin ■

[1] Cfr. Zechariah 9:9.
[2] 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time A, July 6, 2014. Readings: Zechariah 9:9-10; Responsorial Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30. 

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris