Homily for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I think it is safe to say that there is not a person here or anywhere who hasn’t had the experience of being surprised or even shocked: either in a good way or a more painful way. A surprised phone call from a relative or friend, or the opportunity to go for a drive or perhaps we were shocked by holding the winning lotto ticket.
The more difficult experiences of being surprised or shocked, opening an insurance or tax bill; unexpected news from a doctor; or the sudden death of a relative or friend. Even in our current pandemic times, I’m sure coming to Mass was just as shocking for you as it was for me. Or hearing on the news that 3 new cases of covid 19 in PEI…their last case was April 28
It must have been surprising or shocking for the people in the first century to hear Jesus refer to God as “Father” as he does in today’s Gospel. In the Aramaic language that Jesus spoke, the word would have been ‘abba,’ which translated, means, “Daddy” or “Papa”. By using this term he is making God more intimate, personal, more loving and involved in our lives rather than a God who is far away, disinterested and detached from creation. How many of us refer to God as “Daddy” or “Mommy”. God is both: Father and Mother!
Today, Jesus uses surprising or shocking terminology in today’s gospel. And if you remember from last week, I shared with you that ‘we’ are the ‘little ones’… that Jesus speaks of. Today, he refers to us as “infants”, that is if we are humble enough to see that God has revealed himself in Christ Jesus. No doubt the ‘wise and intelligent’ (the Pharisees) were too proud and stubborn to have an open mind about the new things that God was doing in Jesus. Not only does Jesus use the term “infant,” Jesus uses the term “humble.” Why? God calls the ‘infants’ or ‘the humble’ so that there will be no question that it is the work of God, and not just the accomplishments of some important people. Whatever the reason, true wisdom seems to come to those who are humble.
Jesus embodies both wisdom and humility, and for those who will follow his example, he promises rest. Wow! What a promise! Anyone here tired? But this kind of rest does not mean a holiday, or day off or inactivity; rather it means peace of mind and heart, and renewed energy. But again, we need to allow Jesus to be part of our lives… always. Or as Jesus invites his followers (us) to yoke ourselves to Him. The “yoke” was a harness that attached the cargo to oxen or horses. When Jesus says, “take my yoke, “ he means, “let’s trade yokes… let me take our burdens from you.” Those things that we struggle with: keeping up with society, trying to follow the rules and regulations to the best of our ability; laws put in place by our own Church, that keep people away from God. My dear brothers and sisters, coming from while driving between Masses, I was listening to a Ryerson history professor on CBC. In short, she said that ‘we need to be shocked into action to bring about change… and this shock needs to come from outside ourselves. She went on to use the example of both world wars, the great depression, pandemic but also new technologies, discovery of new drugs or vaccines (polio) but also profound words or examples that come from prophets: Pope Francis, Mahatma Gandi and Jesus!
Jesus spent his ministry challenging people to look at themselves and those around them and God in a more intimate way and for some this was shocking. Jesus made God personal not an abstract ‘up in the sky God’. But rather Jesus is our God who takes away our inability to carry the burden of the law, and replaces it with grace; that is, the love and forgiveness of God the “Father” and “Mother” that comes to us through Jesus.