14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
"I am meek and humble of heart."
Entrance Antiphon: Ps 48(47):10-11 — “Your merciful love, O God, we have received in the midst of Your temple. Your praise, O God, like Your name, reaches the ends of the earth; Your right and is filled with saving justice.”
First Reading: Zec 9:9-10 — “See, your king comes to you humbly.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 12-14 — “I will praise Your name forever, my king and my God.”
Second Reading: Rom 8:9, 11-13 — “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Alleluia: Mt 11:25 — “Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; You have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom Alleluia, alleluia.”
Gospel: Mt 11:25-30 — “I am meek and humble of heart.”
Communion Antiphon: Ps 34(33):9 — “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed the man who seeks refuge in Him.”
In Philadelphia, 244 years ago, 56 courageous individuals penned their signatures on a document that would change the course of human events. The Declaration of Independence stated their objection to their subjection to the king of Britain. It stated their self-determination and freedom from foreign rule. This magnificent document spoke of freedom as self-evident, all being created equal, and all being endowed by their Creator with the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And to all of the legalists out there, please note ... the authors of the document recognized life from the Creator ... a clear reference to God.
We recall those great words that gave birth to our nation during this long Fourth of July holiday weekend. We celebrate our freedom from all foreign governments and political powers. We recognize our nation’s freedom as a beacon of hope for those still suffering from political oppression and tyranny. Many of us are in America because that is what our ancestors did. They came here searching for a better life. It still holds true even today.
This anniversary of independence should also include a prayer offered in thanks for all of the blessings God has bestowed on our nation and upon each one of us. We know that there is great responsibility involved in cherishing our political independence and guaranteeing its preservation. Our freedom needs to be protected from the forces that would otherwise seek to break it down or destroy it. As Americans, we have the responsibility to protect and to cherish the freedoms with which we are blessed. As Christians, we have just as much an awesome responsibility to maintain the freedom that the Lord has won for us.
There is a definite connection between our celebration of independence and the message of the Scripture readings today. The first reading from Zechariah seems to be more in line with the fireworks displays that that would usually light up the night skies. “Rejoice heartily … Shout for joy!” The oracles of the prophet announce the restoration of Jerusalem after its destruction by the armies of Babylon. And then, we hear more. The triumphant and victorious king to be will be humble and arrive riding on a donkey. How could this be? After all ... this was the Messiah Zechariah was talking about. How could his victory be based upon humility and peace? In 2020, we know that Jesus established His kingdom of peace in the Church ... but for the people of Zechariah’s day, his message was a challenge to true conversion. Early believers in Jesus, however, recognized Jesus as Zechariah’s promised king. This is reflected in Saint Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus enters Jerusalem just days before His sacrificial death on the cross. With shouts of honor and acclaim, Jesus enters the city on a donkey.
The Gospel invites us to be like children in accepting the revelation of God’s love. We need to be humble and open when accepting the Lord. We need to lose our self-seeking arrogance to make room in our hearts for the peace of God’s reign. The light and easy yoke of the Lord replaces the burden of sin. Sin weighs us down and holds us captive. When Jesus took the yoke of the cross upon Himself, He set us free. Isn’t that reason to celebrate?
Our spiritual freedom is gained through the teaching of Christ and the guidance of the Spirit through the Church. We have the perfect way to come to know this freedom. It comes in the graces of Baptism. When we observe the law of the Lord and allow the yoke of love and guidance to lead us, we shall know peace.
The words of Jesus in the Gospel also invite us to a more contemplative and humble celebration of what the Lord offers. Through Jesus’ ministry, God’s true face is revealed and all of the earlier impressions that mankind had of God ... that of a divine warrior or a punisher of peoples has been put to rest. We are the “little ones” of whom Jesus speaks in the Gospel. We need the Lord’s guidance and His nurturing. We are not free because of our own efforts, but rather we are free because we believe and we accept the redemption given to us through the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Messiah … Jesus Christ.
We are reminded today that Jesus our King is meek and humble of heart. This is important to remember as we face the burdens and the challenges of life. The Lord’s yoke is easy as long as we accept the challenge to remain humble. The yoke talked about here is the mandate to love ... “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart ... and with all your soul ... and with all your strength ... AND you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” By following God’s teaching, we come to know and enjoy the freedom and peace of forgiveness and God’s presence here in this world. The yoke that Jesus speaks of is one of love and compassion which leads to eternal happiness. Love can sometimes be burdensome, but sometimes it is a much sought after burden. If you have vowed to love someone in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, you know what it means to gladly shoulder this burden. Caring for an aging parent, seeing a friend through a terminal illness, or opening your home to a relative who is down on their luck, all are examples of gladly shouldered burdens. If we tie up our capacity to love in the material things of this world, we’ll only feel like we are dragging a boulder behind us and we’ll wonder why our bodies and our spirits sag. Coming to Christ, learning from Him, embracing His yoke, will make all the difference.
Just as the names of those 56 signers are there on the Declaration of Independence forever, so are our names forever inscribed on the heart of the Lord. They have been since the day of our Baptism. Our names are representative of all of the words of God’s love that were ever written or expressed. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” The Lord gives rest, comfort, peace, and healing. His yoke provides the direction. Our burdens are relieved by His mercy and compassion.
That is most definitely cause to celebrate! So set off the fireworks. Light a candle. Gather with neighbors. Remember the veteran who helped to achieve political freedom and the soldier still fighting to preserve that freedom today. Rejoice heartily. Offer your heart to the Lord. Shout for joy and say a prayer.