HOMILY FOR THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A.
HOMILY THEME: Every burden is light for the humble.
BY: Fr. Johnbosco Obika
1. Zechariah 9:9-10
Today, we are reflecting on burdens. A little confession: writing this homily was a burden to me because of the weekly yoke of activities. There’s this story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled boy on his back. “Why are you carrying such a heavy load?” Exclaimed the man. “He is not heavy; he’s my brother!” Replied the boy. Life itself is a burden. We are faced with different forms burden. Some burdens are imposed by nature, some are self imposed, some are imposed by others. Some burdens can be psychological, emotional, socio-cultural and even religious. Some burdens come to us as providence, the way God wants it. In that case God wants to achieve something in others through them as Christ achieved our salvation through the burden of the cross.
The first reading today talks about the burden of those who live in the post-exillic Israel whose relief would only come not by the pride of the one on the chariot but by the meekness of the one on a colt. St. Paul in the second reading speaks of another burden, the burden of the flesh. It is the burden of having to deal with our natural inclinations and the stubbornness of human will. Submitting to the Spirit of God is a way of dealing with our natural inclinations. Humility helps us to carry the burden of natural tendencies. Humility to accept that we are weak and the humility to approach God for the supremacy of his grace over human nature. But however the burden comes, Jesus invites us in the gospel to take a clue from him on how to carry our own burdens.
Humility is might: The world understands meekness as weakness. But a second look at meek people shows they are the strongest. A good example of one who was a conqueror in humility is David. Goliath was a burden and a nightmare to the Israelites. No one ever dared him until David appeared in the battle field. David was dressed with heavy shields, breastplate, bullet proofs, iron belts and all sorts of military protection in order to fight Goliath. That was how real and strong soldiers dressed for battle. Unfortunately, they turned out to be a burden on David’s body. He barely moved an inch with them. He could not even raise the heavy weapons in his hands. David opted to face the Philistine giant on a low key: with humility and trust in God. Just by a swing of the sling the terror of Israel was reduced to nothing.
Learn from me: Jesus admonishes us to learn from his style of victory, “meek and humble of heart”. By so doing he professes total submission to the will of the Father. He is the one who became victorious by becoming so low. In the first reading of today, Zechariah prophesied about him as the one coming to save the daughter of Zion and the daughter of Jerusalem ‘as 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 warrior’s bow shall be banished…’ This passage presents a big irony.
Ordinarily, those who rode on colt or ass are poor and lowly ones. Those who rode on chariots and horses are mighty and brave soldiers. It is surprising to see that the lowly destroyed the mighty and brave who trust in chariots and horses (Ps. 20:7). This prophecy was fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the first part of today’s gospel, Jesus thanked the Father for hiding great knowledge from the wise and learned and revealing them to the little ones, the the lowly ones in the society. Another paradox where the learned are unwise and the ignorant have great insight. This is the way it pleased God that those who humble themselves before him shall be wiser than the wise and mightier than the mighty. We are conquerors when we put on the mind of Christ who was in the form of God but didn’t count it as something to boast of, rather he humbled himself and became obedient unto death. For this, God exalted him and gave him a name above other names (Phil. 2:5-11).
Stoop to conquer! Often we find ourselves in situations where our power is challenged, our authority tested and our ability dared. It happens in the family, in the work places and even among friends. Only pride would inspire one to prove his power, authority and ability negatively in the midst of these challenges. The result is always bitter. But pride is the root of sin and humility is the root of victory. The heaviest burden one has to carry in life is pride and arrogance.
Jesus did not promise a burden free life. So, there is no one who has no burden to carry. He only promised a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light for those who would learn from him. Today, Jesus has given us invitation to come to him with our illness, bereavement, anxiety, depression and worry, etc. Our burden becomes his when we accept his will in all things.May he give us the grace to change the things we can, accept the things we cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Jesus meek and humble of heart make our hearts like unto thine.