Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Zechariah 9 v 9-10
2nd Reading: Romans 8 v 9 & 11-13
Gospel: Matthew 11 v 25-30
Homily reflections for Sunday:
Those words of Our Lord in the gospel: “Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light” reminded me of God’s message to his people through Moses: “This Law that I enjoin on you today is not beyond your strength or beyond your reach. No, the Word is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance.”
God doesn’t expect the impossible of us – he created us and therefore he knows our human limitations and what he expects is for us to do the best we can within those limitations. The point is that all too often make things more difficult for ourselves than they need to be. As God said, what he asks of us is not beyond our ability to achieve – he has put his word and his law into our hearts which means he is closer to us than we are to ourselves. He says to us “my yoke is easy and my burden light” – and therefore, with the help of his grace, our task is simply to listen to his word and then do what he asks of us.
That is what Zechariah was saying in our first reading. We might have an image in our minds of Our Lord as a victorious king, someone therefore that we might struggle to approach, intimidated by his power and might. A lot of the time that’s how things were for the people of the Old Testament – their relationship with God was one of fear rather than love.
In many ways it was a relationship they created themselves rather than it being how God wanted it to be – the result of their repeated infidelity to the covenant relationship he had established with them. Things could have been very different, but they constantly made things difficult for themselves because they never seemed to understand how close God was to them and how easy their following of him could have been.
For us as New Testament people, God isn’t high on the mountain surrounded by cloud and thunder. We don’t have to fear that, like the Israelites, if we see his face we will die. Instead God comes to us, as he did in the person of his Son, in humility riding on a donkey. Immediately it creates a relationship that we can be comfortable with, and that’s the side of God – if I can put it like that – that should make it so much easier for us to relate to what he asks and expects of us. He says: “Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.” “My word is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance.” All we have to do is listen to it and then choose to do what God asks of us.
And we do that with the help of his grace and by using our conscience – prayerfully making decisions and choices that are according to his will, and avoiding those that we know are not. And the more comfortable we are with our relationship with God, the more aware we will be of what it is God expects of us and how we should live out our fidelity to him. It’s as St Paul said in our second reading: “Your interests are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you.”
How then might we dispose ourselves to be as open as possible to the Spirit of God working in us so that at all times his will governs our choices, and the things of God are therefore what we freely choose to do?