of Creighton University's Online Ministries
July 3rd, 2011
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignation Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
I read the other day that ninety thousand birds crash into office windows in New York City every year, because they sense that their reflection is reality. As an encouragement to honesty we are often urged to look at ourselves in a mirror. Looking deeply at ourselves usually ends in something not just quite right with our hair, makeup, teeth, or frown. We call that our reality and we’d better get to fixing it.
As we prepare for the Eucharist these days we can - must - include how God’s love for us, no matter the hair, teeth and frowns, embraces us and that is reality. We can so easily crash into our own perceptions and negative images and assume that they are reality. We can pray these days with God’s image of us and how we are created in God’s image which is love. We can pray as well with at our frowns and wrinkled foreheads and whether there can be smiley-faces as we live from and toward the Eucharist.
We are listening to an oracle or prediction of the Messiah’s coming and character in today’s First Reading. Israel and Jerusalem are going to be blest by the people’s returning from exile and by the establishment of a new king.
The kingdom will spread from Jerusalem out to all the nations and there will be no need for the implements of war such as horse and bow. These verses come within the context of God’s reducing the powers and kingdoms of the enemies of Israel. There is cause then for great rejoicing within God’s daughter, Jerusalem.
We are back in Ordinary Time now, all the way until Advent beginning in Late November. It is the time of learning about the person of Jesus and His Kingdom, or ways of relating with life’s adventures and life’s, “things”. Matthew ends this section of his Gospel with a kind of summary. Next week we will begin hearing of parables, but today we hear Jesus making a few strong statements about Himself and His relationship with His Father.
Jesus thanks His Father for revealing certain “things” to the disciples and not to the wise, who are the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. These “things” are the mysteries of the Kingdom. These are not duties, nor particular actions, but certain non-insights, non-logical, non-common attitudes. The kingdomly ways are not heady, but hearty. Jesus doesn’t send things through the Security Checks of our intellects and if they don’t see any problems or dangers to stability, they are sent on.
The more intimacy there is in a relationship, the less it can be explained. Jesus is expressing the intimacy that He has with His father and that the Father has with the Disciples. These simple followers of Jesus are handed things with which they struggle, but the relationship seems more important and meaningful than comprehension of these things.
What Jesus is calling things are the reversals of the interpretations of the Law, the Law being a “yoke” interpreted by the Pharisees. Jesus has been and will continue telling the disciples that practices or deeds, or observances are to be a reflection of their relationship with God rather than means to win, achieve or guarantee that relationship. Jesus has instructed His followers about many aspects of being a follower of His person and mission. They have been told to go out to preach without fear and without material supports. He has told them about their risking persecution. These are the things Jesus is thanking His Father for having handed them to the little ones. He then tells them that these things are not a burden! The “yoke” is easy! Imagine how the disciples felt having heard this.
Yesterday- Sunday - I reminded the parish community at mass that this Thursday was a Holy Day of Obligation and immediately a little child let out a loud groan and the community laughed, because they were likewise interiorly groaning and they were laughing at themselves.
Tomorrow, here in the United States, many will be celebrating the shaking off of the burden and yoke of Mother England and the declaring of the independence from the domination of the British. There were taxes, laws, and various means by which England kept the thirteen original colonies subservient. These “have-tos” were being replaced by other laws and taxes, which caused groaning of course, but there was a change based on the relationships they all had with each other and their common ideals. George Washington was not a Messiah-type, and heaven forbid, a king, and he did not ride in on an ass, nor did he bring about immediate peace. He encouraged the rebellion, the Revolution and his followers did not always appreciate his ways, but they honored him and trusted.
In our homes and families especially, we find out quickly the strength of the intimate relationships by how willingly we surrender to each other’s ways. “Do I have to?” “How come?” “What about him/her?” Yokes and burdens, laws and taxes are easier for those who also are “meek and humble of heart.” Groaning changes to grinning when we find rest for our souls in the relationships with Jesus and the persons we allow into our hearts. Jesus asks us to put aside our horses and bows by which we attempt to protect our turfs.
“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord; blessed is he who hopes in God.” Ps. 34, 9
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