Friday, 7 July 2017

July 9th 2017. Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL: Matthew 11, 25-30
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL: Matthew 11, 25-30
At that time Jesus exclaimed: 
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father. 
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."

"Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves. 
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kierans summary . . . How often we think that peace can be brought about by compelling wrongdoers to see the error of their ways! How often we believe that we can bring about justice by reprimanding others and flexing our muscles! Jesus teaches us that true peace is founded upon a right relationship with the Father, and this involves humbly embracing the yoke of Christ. This is the sweet yoke of obedience to the Father, of acknowledging our sins, of confessing our smallness and our limits. When we place ourselves humbly before the Father, we multiply the graces that he sends our way. The Father can work through us when we acknowledge our littleness and allow him to be Lord. Authentic peace begins with humble and obedient submission to the Lord. Only then can he erupt into our lives.

How can peace be achieved? Does it require forceful control of the wrongdoer?
This Sunday, the theme of the beautiful passage from the Gospel is introduced to us by the first reading from the prophet Zachariah. Chapter Nine of this book speaks of a humble King who makes his entry upon a donkey. This King will bring peace and will make the chariot of war disappear from Jerusalem. But how is the cycle of war to be broken? How can we finally arrive at peace? Too often, we take the wrong approach and try to bring peace by punishing someone. We think that the advent of peace requires forceful action and the violent application of justice. Justice is a genuine value, of course, but any focus on punishment will have difficulty in bringing about lasting peace, unless the offending person himself seeks purification. If we think that peace involves making wrongdoers finally acknowledge the error of their ways, then we could be in for a long wait: the “wrongdoer” often thinks that it is we who need to change our attitude about certain things.

True peace is not brought about by strength but by humility
We need a better master who can lead us to peace, and the Gospel this Sunday talks of something that is hidden from the wise and learned and that is revealed in the humility of one’s heart. It is revealed to the tired and oppressed, to those who are at the ends of their wits and cannot go on, to those who are finally willing to allow themselves to be helped. When we believe ourselves to be strong, then the way to “peace” involves the flexing of our muscles. When we realize our weakness, then we begin to intuit the way to authentic peace. The road to peace involves humility and smallness. Even by still working for justice, even in still saying the things that need to be said, all of this can be done in a humble way, not in a warlike fashion. Peace is brought about by peaceful means. It involves being peaceful rather than provoking anger. Do we really think that peace can be brought about by aggression?! How often in personal relationships do we think that peace can be realized by reprimanding others! Often it is only when we are tired of combat that we seek to dialogue and understand the other. Then we open ourselves to the only true road to peace, which is peace! It sounds banal, but it is the pacific attitude that brings about peace.

Peace is not something that can be achieved by human activity. It is the fruit of an authentic relationship with God. And this relationship involves humbly receiving from the Lord
The Lord Jesus brings peace, not by shouting aloud, nor by breaking the bruised reed, nor by quenching the wavering flame. Life is nourished and restored, not in war, but in peace. We need to take up the Lord’s yoke and entrust ourselves to him. In the Old Testament it was understood that accepting the Lord’s yoke involved following him in obedience. This was a sweet burden because in reality it was nothing other than relationship with God. And in the end, that is our only goal. We are not pacifists for the sake of some utopian ideal of peace. The text says that no one knows the Father except the Son, and no one knows the Son except the Father and those to whom the Son decides to reveal him. What is at stake here is an intimate relationship with God, and it is clear that it is not something that we can enter into on our own initiative. The door to this relationship cannot be opened by us, but is kindly opened for us through the gift of grace, a gift that allows us to live in relationship with the Father and the Son. If we wish to know the Father then we need the Son to open that door for us. The way of peace, thus, is received by us, not worked out by us. We must welcome it, not create it using our own powers. It is not by our intelligence that we will solve the problems that need to be solved: it is by our humility that we will allow ourselves to be saved. This is a feature of the spiritual life in general.

To receive profound peace in our hearts, we need to embrace our own smallness and acknowledge humbly our desperate need to be saved by the Lord

Peace – Shalom in Hebrew – signifies “abundance”. Here in the New Testament it is something that only Christ can give. It involves living the life of a child of God, the sort of life lived by Jesus himself, the life of one who is secure in the knowledge that he has handed his existence over to another. This life here on earth is a gift. It is not an obligation. It is not something that is under our control. Living an authentic life involves submitting to this sweet yoke, which requires trust, acts of obedience, the renunciation of pretending to know everything. It involves making ourselves small. He who makes himself small in the presence of the Lord multiplies the action of God towards his creature. In order to bring grace upon ourselves, all we have to do is stand humbly before the Lord, entrust ourselves to him in poverty. As the psalm says, who will the Lord look upon with favour? To whom will the Lord turn his face? Towards the one who is humble, towards the one with a contrite spirit. The Lord will not despise a humble, contrite heart. When we seek profound peace in our hearts, we don’t need to marvel at our own greatness. Rather, we must embrace our own smallness. In order to find peace, we don’t need to work out great schemes or have great ideas. We must acknowledge with simplicity our limits. It is by remaining in our littleness that the Lord can find a way to erupt into our lives. Authentic peace begins with our relationship with God. It begins by acknowledging with humility that we need to be saved.

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