The 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 9 July 2023
Lectionary Readings: Zech. 9:9-10; Ps. 145:1-2. 8-14; Rom. 8:9. 11-13; Mt. 11:25-30
Theme: Love Lightens the Load
As summer gets underway, our readings offer hope and promise for the various burdens that weigh us down each day. Zechariah speaks directly to “daughter” Jerusalem and promises future peace, restoration, integrity, and harmony to both the people and the land. Later writers see this as a reference to the Messiah and the fulfillment of this promise in Jesus as he enters into Jerusalem. How many nations cry out today to see this reality!
Paul preaches that we live in the Spirit of God dwelling within us. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will bring life and hope to each of us as we face the burdens of daily life. Everywhere we look at church and society, and we find overwhelming situations that are negative, depressing, hateful, violent, and anything but life-giving. The passage’s message that LIFE is promised to all of God’s children on this tiny planet called Earth can be hard to believe as we experience such challenging situations.
The Gospel of Mathew offers words of encouragement and wisdom with the words: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Jesus himself needed to find that out in his own life experience in Palestine. There were times when he felt alone, uncertain, tired, and pained by all that was happening around him. At those times, he often went to the desert to pray, to be alone with his loving “Abba” to find strength, courage, and peace of heart to continue with his message of hope and life for those following him. He tells them that the “yoke” which feels so heavy and burdensome will not weigh them down.
Today Jesus reaches out to offer us that same message. Jesus comes to those in need in various guises. He comes to the poor and disenfranchised in society in the kindnesses and generosity of those who follow his Way by serving their sisters and brothers in need. Jesus calls us to be that “face of God” by showing love and compassion to others, especially those who are burdened. In the midst of the challenges and fears that we face, we are reminded to recognize that we are not alone in our times of sorrow, loss, pain, and darkness. We, like Jesus, are called to give praise to the Creator of the heavens and the Spirit that lives among us. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt 11:30), is a daily promise and calling to act with justice and truth in the midst of these challenging and difficult situations that surround us. We have Good News to share with our sisters and brothers as All are welcomed to be part of our communities of faith, compassion, justice, freedom, and light. St. John Chrysostom (349-407) commented on Mt 11:28: “Not this or that person, but all that are in anxiety, in sorrows, in sins. Come, not that I may call you to account, but that I may do away with your sins: come, not because I want your honor, but because I want your salvation. ‘And I,’ says he, ‘will give you rest.’” *
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How do I connect with those who have heavy burdens in their personal and public lives or who consider themselves as “least” and feel “unworthy and unaccepted”? 2. What are some ways that I can offer hope, peace, and life to those most in need of comfort and inclusion? 3. Where do I find strength to “get up each day” and carry on, especially when I may also be carrying a heavy burden?
*Bibliography: “Church Fathers: Homily 38 on Matthew (Chrysostom).” New Advent, 2001, hPps:// www.newadvent.org/fathers/200138.htm.
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Mary Louise Chesley-Cora, USA, Bat Kol Alumna 2001