Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 9, 2017
Reading 1ZEC 9:9-10
Responsorial PsalmPS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14
- (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Reading 2ROM 8:9, 11-13
AlleluiaCF. MT 11:25
Homily— July 8 & 9, 2017
The prophet Zechariah tells the people to rejoice, their King is coming! The people had lost their king three hundred years earlier with the Babylonian Captivity and here is Zechariah promising them a King. The people probably thought Zechariah had been in the sun too long! The king that he was predicting was not coming on a big powerful stallion to lead an army but on a small donkey showing him to be a King of peace. Today I envision him with the power to melt down all instruments of war before they could be used.
The second reading is from St. Paul to the Romans where we read about the flesh and the Spirit. This language has led many Christians to see the body as evil and a source of sin This has created a false spirituality that assumes we need to become like angels in order to be holy.
This perspective flows largely from misinterpreting what Paul means by “the flesh.” It does not mean the body nor does it mean sexual desires and activity. For Paul, “flesh” means unredeemed human existence.
Fr. Charles Irvin from the Diocese of Lansing writes, “St. Paul uses the word flesh to speak of human frailty, a concept that goes far beyond that which is merely sensual. St. Paul isn’t limiting himself to sins of human sensuality. He is instead pointing to human weaknesses, particularly sins that include idolatry, materialism, hatred and racism, rivalry and competitiveness, jealousy, envy, elitism, arrogance, acts of violence and all such like. When we contrast the concept of flesh (as St. Paul understands it) with its opposite, we find him speaking about the domination of the Spirit. In another epistle he tells us that what the spirit produces in us is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and self-control.”
When Paul urges his Roman followers “to have the Spirit of Christ,” he means to live as unpretentiously as Christ lived, which is extraordinary. Christ’s love held nothing back, even giving his life so his followers can gain eternal life. Paul and Jesus urge the same goal for us: to live this message in the ordinary moments of our lives in good times or in challenging times.
In the gospel we have the interesting line that has Jesus saying, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.” The Thursday morning men’s group discussed why things were hidden from the wise and the learned. The best that I come up with is that the wise and the learned are closed to Jesus message while the little ones want to learn and are willing to listen. The only way to learn about God is through Jesus because Jesus is the way to the Father. Jesus wants to reveal the Father to all, but perhaps it is only the young that are open to knowing the God of compassion and understanding.
Jesus offers something that the laws cannot. He offers an easing of burdens to the people. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. We are not alone in our burdens.
Coming to know the Father through Jesus gives us the greatest power, but this power does not come easy. We must yoke ourselves to Jesus, learn from him, and shape our lives according to his meekness and humility of heart. To yoke ourselves to Jesus means that we empty ourselves of ourselves. Ultimately the greatest power is letting go of ourselves and grasping Jesus. Jesus is the only way to the Father—the only Power we really need.
Last Monday I was down at the river to the see the air show. I was impressed by the F-18 and its power to go straight up and straight down and the power that it had. But all the F-18’s in the world and all the nuclear devices are nothing compared to the power of God. Let us put our faith and trust in this God revealed to us through the love of His Son, Jesus Christ.