Homily 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo· Zech 9:9-10
· Ps 145:1-1,8-9,10-14
· Rom 8:9,11-13
· Matt 11:25-30
A God who walks on the Side of the Poor
Today we celebrate a God who is always on the side of the poor. A God who cherishes humility. A God who defends and fights for the oppressed in every generation. A God who preserves Jerusalem and his temple. And a God who loves His Church. Including all of us gathered here today. A Church full of saints and sinners, men and women, children and the elderly. A Church who listens and sometimes a Church who does not listen enough.
But how do we know this is true? We know that this is true when we look around and see the blessings God has blessed us with, in spite of who we are. The oxygen we breathe; the roof over our heads, our children, grandchildren, our vocations, families and jobs. This is also true in the stories we hear and share. The lives of the saints. With God everything is possible (CCC385).This is true when we also go by the scripture readings of today.
In today’s Gospel Mathew 11, we see a humble Jesus who came from God his father to be with us, to identify with us, to heal us when we are sick, to feed us when we are hungry, to encourage us when we are discouraged, to protect us when we are threatened by the enemies and to teach us through his disciples the 12, who he had gathered and commissioned in Matthew 10 to go out and preach the good news, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse leapers, cast out demons, teach love, peace and reconciliation(Matt 10:5-15).
But Jesus’ ministry was resisted not by the poor, but mostly by the rich, by scribes, Pharisees and by the arrogant cities. This why the humble Jesus while in the midst of his confused disciples is so happy to take time not only to give thanks to God for always, since the beginning of time, standing with the poor and fighting for the needy, as a divine warrior, but to communicate hope to his disciples and to each of us:
Knowing that we have our own challenges, Jesus does this in more pastoral way, and with a very simple cultural language. He invites us, saying: “Come to me all you who labor 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.”
In ancient days yokes were placed on animals to carry heavy loads. And some of them were really heavy. Today we have our spiritual, psychological and material loads in terms of poverty, insecurity, health issues, and corruption in some political capitals, arrogance in our leaders, that only Jesus who is meek and humble can help us carry these yokes and burdens.
In the ancient days Israel’s yokes included constant military threats by their powerful surrounding neighbors like Assyria, Egypt, Babylon and Persia. Their yoke and burden also included the loss of the temple, their loves and the horrible experiences in exiles as refugees. It is to this ancient Israelites yokes and burdens that the 1st reading Zechariah 9 also addresses. Israel’s king will come. Their messiah is on the way. A savior is here, meek and humble. Israel’s enemies will be defeated by this messiah. Peace shall be proclaimed and the sovereignty of God will extent from coast to coast.
This promise was fulfilled not only in the liberty and freedom of the children of God and their return to rebuild the Jerusalem temple once destroyed (Zech 9:9-10), but in the ministries of our Lord Jesus Christ. With God everything is possible. With God no hope is lost. Do not say that you cannot make it. Don’t think that that illness could not be cured, physically and spiritually. Don’t think that, there is no hope of life or resurrection after death.
What the Lord requires of us today, most, is a humble spirit of disposition that all that the Lord has promised us would be fulfilled. This is the Spirit that Paul talks about in the 2nd reading, the Letter to the Romans. He discourages the spirit of the flesh, doubt, infighting, hatred, violent, jealousy, and selfishness, lack of self-control, gossiping, idolatry and sinfulness. He rather recommends the spirit of Christ for us. It is a spirit of humility. It is a spirit love. It is a spirit of faith and trust in the Lord. It is a spirit of hope and selfless services. A spirit of mercy and forgiveness. A spirit that enables us to respect and treat our neighbors with dignity. And a spirit that constantly reminds us that no matter what, that our God is constantly watching over us. He is fighting for us day in day out.