Fr Vincent's reflections on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus promises that he will give us “rest,” and says “my yoke is easy, and my burden, light.” What is he really trying to tell us?
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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
O God, who in the abasement of your Son
have raised up a fallen world,
fill your faithful with holy joy,
for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin
you bestow eternal gladness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along. The Gospel today is Matthew 11:25-30.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew:
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“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.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
This Sunday’s Gospel is popular with many people. We like hearing Jesus say: “I will give you rest.” Who doesn’t want some rest, especially with covid-19 and all the other issues of the world, not to mention our personal life issues? But, is it that easy?
We need to pair the Opening Prayer of the Mass with the spiritual application of the Gospel. That prayer starts by referring to “the abasement” of Jesus. That means his Passion, when Jesus was arrested, scourged, humiliated, made to carry the cross, crucified, and died. Only by the Passion of Jesus were we freed from sin and raised to that “holy joy.” What this means is that we are being reminded by Jesus, as he says more directly elsewhere, that we must take up our cross and follow in his footsteps!
The Cross is the “yoke” of Jesus. That is rather literal and graphic, given an oxen’s yoke is the beam carried on the beast’s shoulders. We can readily imagine the yoke of Jesus as he drags his cross toward Calvary. It should be clear by now that the “rest” Jesus offers is much different from the “easy life” we might prefer to receive!
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart,” is an invitation to live as Jesus lived, to love as Jesus loved, and to obey the will of our Heavenly Father as Jesus obeyed. How do we do that?
Well, we must acknowledge as our Opening Prayer states that Jesus’ Passion has rescued us from our slavery to sin. Sin is placing our personal will and wants ahead of the Gospel and its expectations that we carry our cross. You see, when we search out the “easy life” here – what Jesus said in last Sunday’s Gospel, “whoever would save his life will lose it” – we reject the humble obedience of Jesus and make our will superior to God’s will.
So, we are challenged not only to reject sin – my clearly “bad” choices – but also to embrace God’s will by placing ourselves at the service of our neighbors around us. It can be as simple as wearing a face mask when in public to help slow down the spread of covid-19. It can be praying to understand the thoughts and feelings of those fighting against generations of oppression. It can be making God the center of my life and faith again even if Sunday Mass is not an obligation under penalty of sin. So many of us are looking for the “easy life,” that we don’t apply the challenge of the Gospel to many of the choices we make each day.
So, what about Jesus’ promise of rest? Our Opening Prayer answers that question, too. It is the promise of “eternal gladness,” even as Jesus promises that those who lose their lives for the sake of the Gospel will find it . . . in Heaven. We must see that our life on this earth is our way to Heaven and is not meant to be heaven itself. This is what ultimately makes the cross easy and the sacrifice of self – Jesus’ burden – light. To gain Heaven is worth all the pain and difficulty of this life. But we must connect to Jesus each and every day to find the spiritual strength we need to succeed at self-sacrifice. This is not earthly wisdom, but the gift of Faith that lets us know we can trust God and the promise of Jesus. We will rest with him for all eternity.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.