Sunday Homily: I Will Give You Rest

Sunday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Rome, (Zenit.org) Fr. Jason Mitchell LC | 1455 hits

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

Centuries before Jesus Christ, the prophet Zechariah foresees the day when the Messiah-King will come to proclaim peace to all the nation of the earth. He comes not on a war-horse, but on a humble donkey. What is more, the Messiah-king will banish the war-chariot from Ephraim (the Northern Kingdom of Israel) and the war-horse from Jerusalem (capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah), and the warrior's bow. This prophesy was fulfilled on Palm Sunday, when Jesus, the Prince of Peace, entered Jerusalem for his Passover. Through his humble death on the Cross, he brings peace by reconciling man with his fellow man and with God. This peace does not remove the trial and tribulation of our life on earth, but rather gives us the strength and grace necessary to persevere under trial and enter into the definitive rest of heaven.

Jesus' whole life testifies to the humility of God. In his Incarnation, Jesus emptied himself and took the form of a servant (Phil 2:7). His birth was marked by poverty and rejection. He fled the wrath of King Herod instead of sending legions of angels to defend himself. He submitted to Mary and Joseph and grew up in the insignificant town of Nazareth. Although he had no need of a baptism of repentance and was mightier than John, he was baptized by John in the Jordan among sinners. He was obedient to the Father's will in everything - it was his food. On the night he was betrayed, he washed the feet of his apostles. He was arrested, beaten and scourged and did not raise his voice. On the Cross, he did not resist, but rather prayed for all of us asking the Father to forgive us because of our ignorance.

Jesus is the humble one who reveals the Father to the humble and lowly. In fact, those who are blinded by pride refuse to accept Jesus' invitation to come to him and learn from him. In their pride, they refuse to set aside the yoke of slavery to sin; they refuse divine sonship and the inheritance of eternal life.

In his Letter to the Romans, Paul argues that we are sons of Abraham through faith and that, like Abraham, we are justified by faith apart from the works of the old law. In Chapters 5-7, Paul affirms that through Adam's sin of disobedience introduced sin and death into the world and lead to condemnation for all men; Jesus' act of righteousness and obedience leads to acquittal, grace, righteousness and life for all men. Through Baptism, we are united to Christ in death and in his resurrection; we are no longer slaves of sin, and are free in relation to righteousness. We have died to the old law through our incorporation into the Body of Christ, and are introduced in the new life of the Spirit.

The first part of Chapter Eight of Paul's letter, which we read in the second reading, talks about this life in the Spirit in contrast to life according to the flesh. Those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things of the flesh, and this leads to death. Those who live according to the Spirit, set their minds of the things of the Spirit, and this is life and peace. Those who are led by the Spirit are children of God and so, when we cry out "Abba, Father" in prayer, it is the Spirit who bears witness that we have truly become children of God who will receive the inheritance, as coheirs with Christ, of eternal life.

Receiving this inheritance means entering into God's rest. This was God's plan from the beginning. He wanted Adam and Eve to enter into his rest, the rest of the Sabbath, the divine rest of heaven. We lost access to this through Adam's sin; but regained it through Jesus Christ, who is the Way that leads to the Father and divine life. This Way is the way of humility, of docility to the inspirations of the Spirit, of generous service, of purity of heart, of tireless pursuit of justice and righteousness (Matthew 5:3-12).

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Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.