14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Zechariah 9:9-10 | Romans 8:9, 11-13 | Psalm 145:2-3,4-9 | Matthew 11:25-30
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
- Matt 11:28
For a society so burdened with personal struggles, societal unrest, and the increasing weight of family expectations and responsibilities, the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matt.11:28) provide great solace. In fact, the three readings from today’s liturgy bring a strong message of hope and comfort for those who can place their trust in God in times of adversity and turmoil.
In the first reading from the Prophet Zechariah, the words of comfort arise from many decades of yearning for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom. In 587 BCE, the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, deposed the Davidic ruler and took many Jerusalemites into captivity. As the experience of imperial subjugation became intolerable, the prophet reflects on the persistence of hope and his belief that a just political order could still be restored in the world. The prophet describes a righteous king riding victoriously and triumphantly into the city on a donkey – the symbol of peace – and not on a war-horse; this new ruler is both humble and a peacemaker. This prophesy was fulfilled in Jesus and describes the events surrounding his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
The gospel reading from Matthew, comes after a long discourse in which Jesus chastises the Galileans who have witnessed his preaching and miracles and still do not believe. Jesus is facing rejection from the people and his message, which He refers to as “these things,” is hidden from the “wise and the learned” who are the Pharisees and the educated in His society. On the other hand, it is the sinners, the tax collectors, and the prostitutes who neither know or follow religious law who get his message and receive forgiveness and welcome at Jesus’ table. Religion was a terrible burden to the uneducated in Jesus’ day. The yoke Jesus refers to is the guilt heaped upon the unlearned of his day who were severely criticized by the Pharisees for not following the intricacies of the law. Jesus offers his followers His own yoke – that is rest and welcome for those whose heart is open to his message.
The second reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans in conjunction with the Gospel reading engage us in a reflection on the Triune God. In the Gospel reading, Jesus addresses God as Father and describes the intimate relationship he shares with God. God has made himself known through Jesus, and in knowing Jesus, we come to know the Father. Paul, on the other hand, speaks of the Spirit, a divine reality, who is different from Jesus and different from God. While the readings give us a glimpse into aspects of the Triune God, a true understanding of the concept is beyond our capacity and relies on faith.
As we look to Jesus to assist us in carrying our burdens, we need to look at how we can help carry each other’s burdens. How will you respond: “Come to me, all you who are burdened?”
Sr. Mary T. Flood, OP