Skip to main content

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Last week’s readings focused on what kind of people God wants us to be, reminded us of the blessings he bestows on those of us who extend kindness and hospitality to everyone (regardless of their affiliation).  This week our readings focus on the kind of kingdom God envisions for his people.  Not one of military might or laborious worship, but something much different from what we’ve come to expect…

Zechariah 9:9-10
Psalm 145: 1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14
Romans 8:9, 11-13
Matthew 11:25-30

Our first reading is from the book of the prophet Zechariah.  It is helpful to remember that Zechariah’s prophecy comes from the early post-exile era, around 520 BCE, around the same time as Ezekiel and Ezra, and is attributed to two different authors (1st Zechariah forming Chapters 1-8, 2nd Zechariah forming chapters 9-14).  Our passage for this Sunday comes from 2nd Zechariah with a vision of a restored Jerusalem with a new king.  But Zechariah’s vision of a kingdom is far different than what the people expect.  What they expect is a king who is powerful, with attendants and an army  representative of his high stature.  Instead we see someone who is humble, riding an ass and banishing all weapons of war.  While this might sound familiar to our Christian ears, this is startling to Zechariah’s listeners.  They’ve just come a period of Exile and are rebuilding their lives back in Jerusalem.  Their desire is to never again be subject to another greater military power.  Yet Zechariah tells us that our strength as a people doesn’t come from weapons, but from putting those weapons aside.  While Jesus wouldn’t be coming for another 500 years, Zechariah’s vision for a restored Jerusalem is typical of the post-exilic era, during a time where the Jewish people see a future for themselves.  The joy Zechariah feels is the same joy we find in Christ… a joy and praise echoed in our Psalm when we sing “I will praise your name forever, my king and my God.”

Jesus picks up this Psalm refrain in our Gospel from Matthew.  Here Jesus is stepping in as the new mediator between God and his people.  In the  past this was a job left to Moses, and later to the priests and religious leaders.  But over time Jesus sees that these leaders have lead them astray, and those leaders have grown deaf to what the Lord want’s of his people.  In fact, these religious leaders have made a relationship with God a burden on the people, requiring specific sacrifices and practices that are restricting their access to God.  Instead Jesus tells us, “my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”  In other words, what you thought God wanted is not at all what he wants.  Not great power or wisdom, but great humility and generosity of heart instead.

Our second reading continues our study of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  Here Paul explains the differences between the body and the spirit… a common theme in Paul’s teaching derived from popular Hellenistic teaching.  Paul teaches us that we are not flesh, we are in the spirit… but only if we allow the spirit of God to dwell in us.  Instead of engaging in those activities that satisfy the flesh, Paul is teaching us that we should engage in those activities that satisfy the Spirit of Christ in order to attain salvation.  This is a particularly important teaching to his Roman/ Gentile audience, takes aim at their common hedonistic traditions in favor of a higher, spiritual purposes.

Final thoughts:

“Why do I have to go to church?”  It’s a common cry not only from children, but from many adults who claim to be faithful Christians.  Going to church is considered a burden.  Even we Catholics consider attendance at Mass to be an “obligation” rather than a gift.  Why is that?  To quote Moses, “we are a stiff necked people.”  We want what we want, even though it might not be good for us, and we spend plenty of effort justifying our positions instead of justifying ourselves before God.  In many ways we are a lot like those “little ones” Jesus talks about in the Gospel… not the little ones full of joy and wonder, but more like the errant toddler who, as any parent will attest, is willful, narcissistic, and ignorant of the many dangers around them.  As adults we grow to realize that we have certain responsibilities, as workers, as parents, as people living in a community.  These adult responsibilities also extend to our spiritual needs. 

Religious practice is on the decline world wide.  Perhaps it’s because many people don’t feel the need for God, or at least a formalized way of recognizing his presence and grace and giving thanks for this.  Yet so many people today say they feel a longing or a “whole” in their lives.  Yet studies done by the Pew Research Center have shown that those who attend religious services regularly not only are happier than those who don’t, but they also live longer.  This tells me that we need God as much as God needs us.  And our readings tell us how to do this… praise God, be humble, and focus on our spiritual selves.


Popular posts from this blog

Post-Lent review... How did you do?

Lent is now behind us, yet in our excitement for Easter (and for Lent being over), how often to you take a moment to look back at your Lenten journey to do a post-game review?

As a volunteer leader and business school graduate, the concept of doing a formal "review" after an event or activity is a long held important practice... one that, unfortunately, tends to get overlooked even at the highest levels.  Still, it remains a staple of standard practice, and for good reason... It affords those involved, and the entire organization, a chance to review everything after the fact... what went well, what didn't, and lay the groundwork for next time.  The same is true for looking back at our Lenten journey.  So... how did you do?

I have to be honest, I sometimes fail to practice what I preach.  For as important as a post-lenten review might be, I hadn't thought of the idea until now.  I didn't even really think about it until this morning when I read the following artic…

5th Sunday of Easter

What happens when you have too much of a good thing?  When a business wins that lucrative new contract or expands into a new location?  Or taking that same idea a bit closer to home, what happens when two families merge through marriage, or when a family welcomes a new child?  We consider this kind of growth to be a good thing, but as with all things, these successes also come with their own baggage.  Our readings for this 5th Sunday of Easter have our Apostles facing similar challenges in the face of their growing successes.

The Word for the 5th Sunday of Easter Acts 6:1-7
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
1 Peter 2:4-9
John 14:1-12

Our reading from Acts of the Apostles learning the hard way about the challenges that grow out of their continued success when their number of followers continues to grow.  Up to this point the Apostles have been doing their best to address the needs of the community, both spiritual and physical, but the community has grown so large now that they are becom…

Nuns and Nones... continued...

On 6-24-2016 I wrote a brief commentary on what we call the "nones"... that is, those people who check the box that says "none" when asked about their religious affiliation.  That commentary was based on an address by my former high school's principal at their 2016 graduation address.  But this topic of the "nones" returned to my attention with this article posted on our daily Angelus News email from the e-magazine Crux:

Notre Dame debuts digital platform to reach young Catholics, ‘nones’
Please take a moment to read it... 

Of particular interest is the increasing number of "nones," those people who claim no religious affiliation. I first heard this term a few years back from one of the speakers at our LA Religious Education Congress. The term itself grew out of a 2012 Pew Research study that showed this rising trend. Working as I do with the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation, this was a known issue, but the Pew study validated what ma…