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Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Modern

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Gospel: Matthew 11: 25-30

The Gospel passage this week comes at an end of a chapter in which Jesus is facing increased opposition from the people of Israel. He reproaches the various towns in which he had preached, ministered, and performed miracles, that resulted with little conversion or repentance of the people there. Jesus turns his disappointment and anger into prayer. This is a lesson for all of us in what to do with the difficult situations that trouble us.

Jesus turns to his Father with praise and thanksgiving, acknowledging his Father and the importance of trusting in the will of the Father. Very often we might act impulsively to difficult situations without taking the time to turning over the Father in prayer for guidance. This could include calling upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially Wisdom and Understanding needed in our particular situation. The lesson for us is to follow this example of Jesus by turning to the Father and surrendering to his will.

Jesus teaches us not to keep the Father’s presence to ourselves. The unity of Jesus with the Father is a perfect unity; “No one knows the Father except the Son…..” While our unity is not perfect, it is a unity that strengthens and consoles us. Jesus moves from praise and thanksgiving to his father to the invitation to us. He calls us to bring all that is wearing us down to him and he will help us. He uses the image of a yoke that calls us to picture two farm animals with the wooden yoke across their necks so that together they can pull a heavy load. We are to picture ourselves and Jesus with a yoke connecting us so that we can carry the burdens of life, not alone, but with Jesus. Jesus does this for us out of meekness and humility, so that we might find rest. How beautiful it is when we are that connected, in unity with the Lord, so as to experience that rest! It’s a rest that calms us, renews us, and energizes us.

Finally, the invitation to come to Jesus with our burdens is not only for us, it is for all. On our part we can extend this invitation to others through prayer and words. In this Gospel we learn that it is the Father’s will that has hidden the teachings of Jesus from the wise and clever, yet revealed them to the childlike. The religious leaders who were considered the ones with knowledge, were the ones who rejected Jesus. Meanwhile it is the fishermen, the tax collectors and sinners who were receiving Jesus and turning to him. In order to accept God’s word, one must be open to it and receive it with humility and a type of innocence found in a child. One might not expect to find this innocence in the tax collectors and sinners, but the way that they responded to Jesus, repented and followed him is proof that what we sometimes assume about the spiritual life a person can be wrong. We don’t know why someone is living a life that we might see as sinful, and we also don’t know what is happening in their soul. Sometimes there is a receptivity to the Lord that we don’t see, while in fact in the midst of all the things they seem to be doing wrong, there is a childlike faith that when touched by God’s presence turns them to him. This opens within us the ability to see the work of God in ways we do not expect to. With this comes a peace and calmness in the midst of frustrations and even anger.

Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.

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