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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Reflection 2020-07-05 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30
The First Reading speaks of the coming of the King. He comes triumphant and victorious, yet humble and riding on a donkey. This gives an image of power and authority. The First Reading continues to speak of weapons being destroyed, and the king commanding peace to the nations where his rule extends from sea to sea. This is the picture the people had of the Messiah who is to come, a conquering King. Yet, the picture Jesus gives in the Gospel today has a slight twist in it. Jesus presents three points:
  1. The Father is Lord of heaven and earth and it is his gracious will to hide these things from the wise and reveal these to infants. What are these things Jesus refers to? If we look at the verses before this passage, Jesus warned of woes of unrepentant cities. He warns of what will happen to cities that reject him: destruction. The wise will not understand because they think they will escape destruction by their own effort. The infants know the only way to escape from destruction is trusting Jesus.
  2. The Father hands this authority to Jesus because he alone knows the Father and only the Father knows him. This fulfills the prophecy in the First Reading, about the King who, not only rules from sea to sea, but rules also heaven and earth. Jesus is saying, the Messiah that Israel expects is here and he is more than what they are expecting.
  3. After receiving the authority of the Father, Jesus calls those who are weary and carrying heavy loads to come to him and he will give them rest. Jesus says this with authority of the Father, and he has the power to fulfill this. As the first reading says, the King will command peace to the nations.
Peace is not achieved by conquering enemies. Peace is not achieved by destroying weapons of war. Peace is achieved when we come to Jesus and when he commands peace in us. By saying this, Jesus shows that the King of Israel is different from the conquering King Israel expects. He will not destroy their enemies. He will not break the weapons of war. Instead, he gives peace by calling people to himself. It is only when we come to Jesus, when our bodies are dead to sin, that the Spirit lives in us. Jesus calls us to himself not to demand anything from us, but to give himself to us.
The verse before the Second Reading tells us: they who are in the flesh cannot please God. We cannot live in the Spirit if we live in the flesh. Living in the flesh means to be controlled by our own desires. If I do what I want without concern for what God wants, I cannot please God. This is what Jesus came to destroy: our desire to do what we want, our desire to decide for ourselves what is good and bad. This is only possible when we come to Jesus in repentance and reconcile with him. He gives us power to defeat our flesh through his Holy Spirit.
Some may ask, will God forgive me when I have done many evil things in the past and even in the present? Is God calling me, even if no one loves me? Does God care about me, even when everyone has abandoned me? The answer to all these is Yes, as long as we turn to him, surrender our lives to him, and give him authority over our lives. While God is the Lord of heaven and earth, he respects us and will not force us to submit to him. This submission has to be voluntary. No one can force us to submit to him. Submission is necessary for us to experience what the Psalm today says: The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds. The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.
Jesus says in today’s Gospel, it is God’s gracious will to reveal that repentance is the only way to escape destruction of our lives. Repentance is the only way to have peace, because repentance is rejecting sin and moving towards God, who gives peace. Sin brings death, while the Spirit brings life.
Lord, of heaven and earth, I come to you, weary and burdened, because I looked for peace and could not find it. You tell me to come to you and you will refresh me. I reject all my sins, what I had done before, even those I continue to do today, and accept you as my Lord and Savior. Save me Lord. Give me rest. I believe, whatever evil I have done, you will forgive me. I believe, even if no one loves me, you still love me. I believe even when everyone has abandoned me, you call me to come to you. Here I am Lord, let me die to my sins and give me new life. Give me rest and peace, in Jesus’ name I pray.

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