Thursday, December 15, 2011

Homily II: Fourteen Sunday of the Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily II: Fourteen Sunday of the Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
 Readings; Zech 9:9-10; Ps 145:1-2,8-11, 13-14; Rom 8;9,11-13 and Matt 11:25-30

Jesus, the Giver of Rest

“Come to me all you who labor 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 is light.”

This text from Matthew 11 verses 28-30 set the tone for the teaching mission of Jesus, which lies behind the bible lessons of today. Christ is not only a peace maker, but he is always on the side of the poor, the “infants” the little ones, the rejected and the oppressed. He brings them “rest”, lessens their burdens and exonerates them from hard labor, from pains, from injustices, threats of war and burden of sin.

Rest in biblical language is an umbrella term. It connotes not just relaxation, refreshment, but peace, justice, prosperity, reconciliation, equality before God, freedom from the minority power status quo, from empty legalism of the Pharisees, the Scribes, from those “know all”- the “wise,” It means liberty, and entry into the promise land as well as fulfillment of all that the Lord had promised us in the OT and through the mouths of his messenger –prophets.

The first reading of today was certainly meaningful for a community that had just came out from exile. It brought them joy and consolations. Prophet Zechariah says,

“Rejoice heartily O daughter of Zion; shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem. See, your King shall come to you, a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt,… he shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, the warriors’ bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations ….”

Every prophecy or Israel Prophets had these messages of judgment, ethical conducts, the sovereignty of God, and His power to restore, to reverse a certain fortune, hope and reconciliation, justice, peace and bring rest. But it has the challenges of persecution, and rejections by the ruling power, the arrogant and by some of their contemporaries. We have seen this in the case of Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel and even in the non-classical prophets like Elijah and Elisha.

Similarly, in the time of Christ, as presented in today’s gospel many accepted while some did not. The  Pharisees and the Scribes, the so called the “learned and the wise” rejected him and his message.

Acceptance of Christ of course, depends on God’s revelation. It is a gift for those who are humble, meek and open to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the mysteries His Kingdom.

St. Paul says in today’s Second Reading,

“You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Who ever does not have the Sprit of Christ does not belong to him….”

No doubt we live today in world of continued beat of war drums, revenge and terrorism. The gap between the rich, the wise, the learned and the poor and the little ones, is not nearly lessening, but it widens daily. Many are questioning their faith because of TV ads or science course they just took in a college and modern promotion of extreme materialism with freedom without commensurate responsibilities.

Many of us have our own personal, self-made burden of sins or spiritual disconnect from God, Church, families and neighbors. There are also many burdened by the unjust political and economic structures of the society they live in. Some are burdened by the tedious decoding of student’s loans, health and auto insurance codes, or by interpreting tons of paper work.

  Wherever we find ourselves burdened, socially, politically, economically and even spiritually, Christ’s yoke is nothing but easy and simple.

He invites us today:  the poor and the rich, the wise and the learned, infants, adults to open ourselves for Christ’s ethics of love, his revelation, humility, peace and forgiveness. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. He is the giver of rest and the source of peace.