FREE TO BE FAITHFUL
At times all of us probably find life a bit ‘heavy going’. It can make us miserable, depressed and maybe a bit cranky. In the first reading today from the Old Testament, the Prophet Zechariah can’t wait for what the Lord God has in mind, and is full of happiness at the prospect that God will one day reach deep into the heart of His people. The Prophet is convinced that God will show them a way to ‘off load’ unnecessary burdens and personal baggage and to have inner freedom to be faithful to the Covenant with the Lord God.
St. Matthew in His Gospel today, sees in Jesus, the Word of God made flesh……the answer to the Prophet Zechariah’s hopes!
Let us gather our thoughts together, and as a community let’s focus on Praise and Thanksgiving for God’s mercy towards us.
LET’S PAUSE FOR A MOMENT.
The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in love. We thank you. LORD HAVE MERCY.
How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his people? We praise you. CHRIST HAVE MERCY.
The lord is faithful in all his works and loving in all his actions. We glorify you. LORD HAVE MERCY.
INTRODUCTION TO THE REALHOMILIE
A few years ago, December 1969….time files!!!!I remember the time when Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace prize in Oslo. The ‘powers-to-be’ didn’t really know how to deal with her! They sent two limousines to the Airport to meet her, one for her, the other for her luggage! She arrived smiling, with her personal belongings in a shopping bag, and the welcoming committee was completely at a loss as to what to do. They would have had no problem at all with Heads of State and other dignitaries but with this little frail woman who had some sort of extraordinary aura about her, she made them feel powerless, and they were in awe in the presence of a power and a strength with which they were seemingly unfamiliar. That is what Jesus speaks about in the Gospel today.
The Prophet Zechariah 9:9-10. Ps 144:1-2.8-11.13-14. Gospel Matthew 11:25-30
In the times in which the Prophet Zechariah, lived, many of the local people would have thought that he was mad in the head, out of touch with reality, and intoxicated with something…….Yes, he was intoxicated by someone; yes, it was the Lord God.
This Hymn of Praise of God’s destiny for His people, consumed the Prophet. The optimistic chords of harmony were at variance with the pessimistic outlook of many of God’s People at that time. However, true to the Lord God’s faithful relationship to His people, when the times were rough for His people, due to their disobedience, He always lured His people back to Him. In fact the Lord God is besotted with His people, because He knows the capability of what they can do and be. God’s people are somewhat like the possibilities that can happen with a beautiful Rose bud, as it matures to blossom and emanate delicious perfume and stunning colours. The Rose Gardener’s wisdom knows what to do when black spot appears on the Rose bush leaves, and perhaps tiny insects suck out the nutrients of the growing stems. By way of an analogy, our God is like the wise Gardener who knows what the Rose Bush is capable of, but like any Rose Gardener, there is always a surprise in store when the Rose blossoms. Our God is in ‘awe’ of the surprises that we can illustrate through our being and doing as joyful members of ‘the poor of the Lord’, the faithful few, the Anawim of the Scriptures. So, the twitter message in the responsorial Psalm today, is so apt! I will praise your name for ever, my King and my God.
The Gospel today, situates Jesus while of tour preaching in Galilee. By this time Jesus and his band of followers, had encountered all kinds of people with different dispositions in either listening and accepting the Word of Jesus, or those who walked away shaking their heads because they thought that they knew better. Or they just didn’t care less about the Lord God, and their relationship with him. It’s not unlike today! The faces have changed, but the message remains the same!
In the opening lines of today’s Gospel, we can hear this Prayer of Jesus to His Father, rising from deep within him, as it bursts forth with the Lord’s hands lifted in prayer! Let’s go deep sea diving into its meaning then and now! In His prayer to the Father, Jesus applauds the ‘little ones’ the ‘pure in heart’ the faithful few. Jesus is not saying that the so called educated who have degrees as long as your arm and not worthy of inclusion into God’s family, but they are the ones who have, with their black and white interpretations of God’s law, pride themselves in being righteous. The so called Pharisees and Scribes in our Lord’s time, are still with us in 2017…….one only needs to check out Facebook to see that. Jesus, originally coming from the hill country, would have spoken with an accent which indicated his lowly status within society. However, in and through this background, he epitomised and was the promised optimistic vision of what the Prophet Zechariah was so keen about in the First Reading.
In the second part of the Gospel for today, we see Jesus, the human face of the Father, inviting us to share in His yoke. Have you ever seen a Yoke on Oxen? It is a clumsy contraption, but it works well, when shared! The Yoke also looks like the horizontal beam of the Cross! That image should not be lost on us either. Jesus calls us to learn from Him and be gentle and humble and in so doing, without pretence, we will find an inner spiritual rest which is more lasting than a weekend in a 6 star Hotel overlooking Sydney Harbour.
So, in order to do a personal spiritual maintenance ‘check-up’, let’s ponder on the meaning for us of the little reflection below.
The Lord said to me, ‘Come to me.’ But I said, ‘I’m not worthy.’
‘Come to me’, he repeated. And I said,’ I’m afraid.’
‘Come to me.’ ‘I’m too proud.’
‘Come to me.’’ ‘But I’ve no appointment.’
‘Come to me.’ ‘But I can’t afford the time right now.’
‘Come to me.’ ‘With that I fell silent.’
Then he said, ‘Come….sit down….take the load off your feet. ‘Sit here as in the shade of a tree.’ ‘Refresh yourself as at a running stream. ‘Here you will find rest. Here you will find peace. ‘And your yoke will become easy, and your burden light.’
Fr Kevin Walsh
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FRACTION RITE: THIS HAPPENS DURING THE LAMB OF GOD
We thank our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, and proclaim your praise. In his goodness he reveals to mere children what he hides from the learned and clever. By placing our burdens under the Cross of his Son, we find in him rest and peace. By gathering our lives into one, in this Eucharist, we become empowered by the Lord to receive his yoke of love.