Sunday Says Podcast – July 6, 2014 Mass Readings and Reflections
Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (NAB Translation)
We open up the Scriptures to hear God speak through Old Testament prophecies, in the Psalms of King David, the letters of St. Paul, and in the words of Jesus as conveyed through St. Matthew, the tax collector disciple of Jesus. Our readings this week, as always, are from the New Jerusalem translation for copyright purposes.
Our first reading is from the book of Zechariah, which is the second to last book in the Old Testament. The prophet Zechariah describes the promised Messiah as a king who was to be a savior for Israel. Unlike the typical warrior king riding on a war horse, he would come to his people meekly riding on a donkey or a colt to rule the world in peace. It may seem strange to hear words like “victorious” or “triumphant” with someone riding on a donkey. But the imagery used in this passage foretells Christ’s entry into Jerusalem as told in all four gospels and recounted in the Palm Sunday liturgy. The words “Zion”, “Jerusalem”, and “Ephraim” are ways of poetically referring to the descendants of Israel to whom the prophet is speaking. However, this savior king seems to expand God’s scope of concern by proclaiming peace not just to Israel but to all nations. The complete arsenal of ancient warfare, i.e. the chariots, archers’ bows, and horses –would all be banished, not by an arrogant and prideful ruler but by a meek — but obviously powerful king, a king capable of establishing a universal kingdom.
The Responsorial Psalm is a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving attributed King David in which he praises the very Nature of God, his goodness, mercy, kindness, graciousness, and compassion. These verses harmonize with the words in the catechism, that God is infinitely good and worthy of all praise. We would do well to have the words of this Psalm frequently on our lips.
The Second Reading is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans. In this passage St. Paul warns of the forces involved in our interior struggle to remain in the Spirit of Christ. The truth is that there is a battle that is waged between our fleshly desires and the will of God. The flesh must never be allowed to prevail over the Spirit. When our physical and fleshly appetites are allowed to reign, we displace the Holy Spirit and cannot please God. How we live and how we manage temptations matters immensely
The Gospel Reading begins with a challenge to most of us. We are told that humility is essential if we are to really know God. Knowledge, education, and cleverness will not get us there. Childlike trust and meekness that imitates Christ’s own meekness are the prerequisites. But Jesus makes a curiously attractive offer: “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” This “rest” that Jesus offers is the true inner peace that all human beings are created for. Why then is the offer sometimes rejected? Jesus said His yoke is easy and burden is light, but it also a yoke of humility and sacrifice. It takes a childlike trust to take on Jesus’ yoke in our fallen world with its constant temptations to pride and pleasure. When Jesus says, “learn from me,” it’s a different kind of learning where we are challenged to take a risk and follow His model, to live and believe it with childlike confidence.
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