July 6, 2014
ORDINARY 14 (A)
Come to me, all you who labor and burdened. – Mt. 11: 28
Looking at our disordered world these days, one might well wonder if the power to govern has been vested in the smartest possible people. The United States Constitution is only as good as the people who administer it. Looking at our Lord’s words in today’s gospel makes it clear that we have much to learn. In the Epistle of James we find this advice: “everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God” (1: 19-20). We seem to have reversed things. We are slow to hear, quick to speak, & quick to wrath.
One definition of Church might go like this: God’s people gathered together to be a model of peace, harmony, brotherhood & justice. Another definition might go like this: to minister to the world in love as Christ’s ambassadors. All this sounds nice until we begin to spell it our as St. Paul did:
“Pray for me, that God may put His word on my lips, that I may courageously make known the mystery of the Gospel – that mystery for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may have the courage to proclaim it as I ought” (Ephesians 6: 9).
What does this mean? Whenever we try to define the purpose of the church, be it the church universal or our own parish, we come face to face with Jesus’ vision of it. He chose the Old Testament image of the “suffering servant” to describe Himself, & He tried to tell the disciples that in order to fulfill His ministry, both He & they would have to suffer & die. But let us keep one thing in mind: neither Jesus nor Paul nor any of the saints since them chose suffering. They all chose to be faithful!
Suffering & even death may be a part of the price we pay for being faithful, but we will never be alone. The spirit of the living Christ within us strengthens us makes it possible for us to gives ourselves over to the will of God. Unfortunately, too many of us have yet to learn from Him & see our disordered world from the standpoint of His standard of unselfish love. We’ve been conditioned to conform, rather than make a difference.
We need to ask ourselves some hard questions. Do we trust Jesus enough to confront evil & corruption with His power of love? Do we have faith enough to risk becoming ambassadors in chains?
It is not a question of being in chains or not, only of to whom or what? To our passions, our vanity, or, our greed, our panaceas, our quick fixes, our ambitions, or our anger? The paradox of the Gospel is that Christ’s yoke alone does not add weight but brings true freedom.
At a time when everyone else is asking us to get off their backs, Jesus is that rare voice asking us to get on His. He can carry our burdens, but before that can happen, we have to slow down & be quick to learn from Him how to embrace our disordered world in love. No small task, that. AMEN!