Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Christ the Redeemer”
by Andrea Del Sarto, c. 1650
Readings for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time[1][2]

Readings and Commentary:[3]

Reading 1: Zechariah 9:9-10

Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,
shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king shall come to you;
a just savior is he,
meek, and riding on an ass,
on a colt, the foal of an ass.
He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,
and the horse from Jerusalem;
the warrior’s bow shall be banished,
and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.
His dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Commentary on Zec 9:9-10

The oracle of the Prophet Zechariah speaks of the restoration of Israel following the great exile.  In this section he speaks of the coming of the Messiah.  “The Messiah will come, not as a conquering warrior, but in lowliness and peace. Not like the last kings of Judah, who rode in chariots and on horses (Jeremiah 17:25; 22:4), but like the princes of old (Genesis 49:11; Judges 5:10; 10:4), the Messiah will ride on an ass. The Evangelists see a literal fulfillment of this prophecy in the Savior's triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:4-5; John 12:14-15).”[4]


R. (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R. Alleluia.

I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R. Alleluia.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The Lord is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R. Alleluia.

Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R. Alleluia.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The Lord lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R. Alleluia.

Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise.  The singer invites all to join in praising God for all he has done; for His creation, His kindness, and His mercy toward those who have fallen on hard times.

Reading II: Romans 8:9, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
You are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Consequently, brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.
Commentary on Rom 8:9, 11-13

After his warning in Romans 7 against the wrong route to fulfillment of the objective of holiness expressed in Romans 6:22, Paul points his addressees to the correct way. Through the redemptive work of Christ, Christians have been liberated from the terrible forces of sin and death. Holiness was impossible so long as the flesh (or our "old self"). The same Spirit who enlivens Christians for holiness will also resurrect their bodies at the last day. Christian life is therefore the experience of a constant challenge to put to death the evil deeds of the body through life of the spirit (Romans 8:13).[5]


At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“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 light.”
Commentary on Mt 11:25-30

Jesus has just completed a fairly scathing criticism of the places he has been and performed miracles yet; the people have not accepted him as the Messiah.  He now concludes this section on a more joyous note as he reflects that, while the Scribes and Pharisees (“the wise and learned”) have not understood who he is, those with simple faith have accepted him freely.  He then issues an invitation to all who “labor and are burdened” quoting an invitation similar to one in Ben Sirach to learn wisdom and submit to her yoke (Sirach 51:23, 26).


Sacred Scripture offers us a clear vision of what Jesus offers us and what we in-turn are to offer in his name.  In the first reading from the Prophet Zechariah we see the prediction of the Messiah who (from his view) is to come.  We see, unlike the leaders of Jesus’ day, that the Savior will come humbly (“…and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.”)  While the prophet is clear that Christ’s dominion will be over the whole world, again, the leaders of his age saw only his mission to free Israel from the Romans.  This conflict of images between a “Royal Messiah” imagined to be like King David from whose line Jesus came is the basic reason so many of the leaders of the Jewish community could not accept him.

What also caused difficulty was the radical change in understanding of God’s desires for His people ushered in by the Lord.  St. Paul in his letter to the Romans speaks of this fundamental change as he calls the faithful claimed by and for Christ as “…not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit,”  In the grip of the Holy Spirit we need to be conformed to Christ accepting his “easy yoke”.

Finally in the Gospel Jesus makes his invitation and promise.  After he laments that the people who should have seen his mission most clearly, the “wise and the learned”, he issues an invitation to all who are doing daily labor, not focused exclusively on things of God.  He also states clearly that accepting his mission and wisdom should not be difficult but rather acceptance should bring us peace.

Given what we hear, those of us who strive to follow him are called to reach out as well.  It is the great paradox of our faith.  We are to remain separate and untouched by the secular world and its values but also reach out to other in that world offering them Christ’s peace, the “light burden”.

Our prayer today is that we present that humble image, so easy to accept and love, to those we meet.  In turn that loving peace will infuse us with His love and consolation.


[2] The picture used today is “Christ the Redeemer” by Andrea Del Sarto, c. 1650
[3] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[4] NAB footnote on Zechariah 9:9
[5] Taken in part from the NAB footnote on Romans 8:1-13

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