Here in the United States we are celebrating our Independence as a nation from England in 1776. The resulting war to secure that separation was bloody and a sad way to begin a nation’s history. War has been a major part of that history. We have tried to preserve our union and our liberties and assist other areas of the world to gain or retain their identities.
As we prepare to celebrate this week’s liturgy, we might pray for personal freedom from dominating forces within our souls and outside our bodies. We can pray as well for the sacredness of other dependencies and relationships which assist our God-given identities. It is not easy to determine what dependencies are sacred and which ones are sick. It is not easy either to know when our independencies are healthy or ill as well. We come to the Eucharist to express our healthy dependency on God’s love and the challenges to use freely God’s many gifts in the service of peace and justice.
The prophet Zechariah has been relating various words from God. The words have been boasts from God about being the One and powerful God. In the chapter from which our First Reading is taken, the prophet has been relating threats and promises against the adulterous and unfaithful kings and shepherds of God’s people. What we hear is a messianic prophecy about the One Who is to come and what He will be doing.
Riding on a donkey is not a lowly or humble picture. This person
will be princely and will be the recipient of God’s favor
which will be justly deserved. His personal mission will be to establish
peace from “sea to shining sea”. The trappings of war
will be banished, because God’s people will trust His Words
and His Ways. This will be a cause for a great celebration of independence
from the protective instruments of war and a growing dependence
on God’s peace to be on their own.
We hear a prayer or direct address from Jesus to His Father. It has the tone of gratitude for the mysterious ways God has been revealing true wisdom to these simple yet open hearts. They have not relied on logic, signs or execution of laws to gain freedom of soul. They have been experiencing Jesus and His ways and the call to the Kingdom’s ways.
Yes, there have been miracles, but some have not responded to these in acts of faith. Some see and others do not. Last week’s liturgy celebrated Peter and Paul as some of those who saw enough to believe. They heard enough to be called. The church to which we belong is for those who hear something inside them being called to by something beyond them. The “little Ones” are those who hear something inside them which is unexplainable, but real, it calls out to the beyond, the call of God rests gently along side that inner call. Logic can help, miracles can help, and insights can help, but are never enough to calm that inner call. We are called to the Church, but only because we have called out to the Infinite and the Infinite reverences and tends gently to our longings. God will never take that longing away in some totally satisfying manner. Longing is to be reverenced by our own selves as God does reverence to those longings within us as well.
The second section is a heart-felt direct address to the followers of Jesus to keep learning His ways. The “yoke” which is the heaviness of the Law and especially the interpretations of the Pharisees, is being replaced by the gentleness and personal relationship offered by Jesus.
The “yoke” of Jesus is personal as well as cultic or institutional. He was calling them and us to community, (church) because love labors together. He calls to our need to be at peace and to let go of our inner-personal war-makings. He is telling us to be as gentle with our personal struggling selves as He is with us. He implies that if we learn of His gentleness with us and we buy into that way of relating inside, then we will be more likely to call off the dogs, drop our defenses and regain our unity as members of His kingdom.
The “rest” to which He invites us is then interior. Those who labor without interior peace and unity are mostly likely building their own kingdoms and those kingdoms do not allow for rest and are constructed for defensive war-making. It does take a lot of learning of His ways and learning of the fruitfulness of inner and outer war.
“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord; blessed is he who hopes in God.” Ps. 34, 9
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