July 5, 2020
by Maureen McCann Waldron
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 100

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

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

How the Ordinary Time Readings Are Organized and Can Help our Prayer

Today’s readings are an invitation to humility and meekness.  I think my immediate response might be, “Humility?  Thanks, but I’ll pass on it.”

Our world doesn’t value humility but instead prizes fame, power and a certain swagger.  Yet St. Ignatius always tell us that greater intimacy with Jesus comes through humility and humiliation. Ok, Ignatius, I’ll pay attention.

In the first reading, the beleaguered Israelites, who were always awaiting a king to save them, are told to expect a different kind of savior.  The passage opens with a call to joy and celebration as the Lord says, “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!  See, your king shall come to you.”

Yet this king is one who comes in total simplicity, riding not the powerful chariot or a warrior’s horse, but the humble, plodding transportation of the poor: a young donkey.  This savior promises to banish the weapons and instruments of war “and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.”  Both the people of Israel, and we today, long for peace.  We can hear this promise in our hearts.

The message is reinforced by the psalm, as we are invited into a relationship with a God who is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and kind. Our loving God promises to lift up all who are falling and raise up all who are burdened in life.  Are there any of us who don’t need, and long for, that kind of support from God who has an endless supply of love?

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”

“David Wanner, Sculptor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1933-2017), c. 1990, Shrine of the Sacred Heart, Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh”

Matthew’s Gospel offers an invitation from Jesus: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”  The audience for this message from Jesus is the people who follow him each day. Pope Francis describes those listeners as simple people, the poor, the sick, sinners, those who are marginalized.  The pope said these humble people “always followed him to hear his word — a word that gave hope!”  In his ministry Jesus spoke to them, healed them and encouraged them to speak to God as a loving father. Now, Francis says, “He calls them all to himself: ‘Come to me,’ and he promises them relief and rest.”

But of course, in the Christian life, “relief and rest” are not the end of the invitation.  We are also called by Jesus to take up his yoke on our shoulders.  and continue the work of caring for those around us, offering support to so many weary people, worn out under the unbearable weight of neglect and indifference. How are we supposed to do that when we may not feel all that strong ourselves?

It helps to picture a yoke, a harness shared by two oxen which allows them to work together as a team.  Jesus is not handing over a burden to us but is asking us to join him in his work, to share the yoke. Suddenly, humility seems like something I want to do.

Our world, and maybe our lives, seem so heavy and heart-wrenching right now.  We are called to a meekness that allows us to ask our loving God for help; to learn from Jesus how to make our way through it in small and humble service to others.  That is where we will finally find peace.

We beg for a humility that can place us in the shoes of another to see and begin to understand their world and point of view.  We are not in this alone, but side by side with Jesus, doing our part but knowing we are guided and loved by his great heart.

Dear Jesus, 
I want to be humble enough to remember that you have everything I need to make me safe and happy; to be secure and unafraid.

I come to you with my burdens.  Help me to take up your yoke and share what you have asked of us – caring for others.  That is where I know I will find peace.

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