July 6, 2008 Year A
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reflection on the Readings
By Dennis Hankins
Theme: I Will Give You Rest
The crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28b-29)
Weakness often finds expression in a forcible way. Jesus' authority arose from a heart filled with gentleness and humility.
The Scribes and Pharisees delighted in being authoritarian. A greeting in the marketplace and the best seat at dinner is all that mattered. Connecting the people to God did not matter. In contrast to Jesus, they came among the people of God to be served. Jesus on the other hand talked about life that withstood winds and waves, discipline that brings ease and refreshment to life, and demands that bring joy instead of burden. Jesus came to serve, not to be served.
No wonder one of the best loved scriptures is Jesus saying, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." In the name and authority of Jesus the Apostles brought good news to the poor, cast out devils, made the lame to walk and the dead were brought back to life. Meeting Jesus should be momentous. The Jesus we give to the world is the Jesus who turned water into wine, gave the lepers new skin, and opened the eyes of the blind. And the Jesus we worship is the Jesus who comes to us in the bread we eat and the wine we drink, the body and blood of the Lord.
Unlike the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus came among His own, revealing the Father. His words and His works conveyed the message, 'there's someone I want you to meet.' It is His desire that we should know the Father, since 'no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.' And it is us He has chosen. He said, "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." Is there any greater consolation and rest than to know we are the focus of the Father's love through the Son of His love? And the Holy Spirit brings this filial truth to us, that is, the love that unites the Holy Trinity to one another also includes us. Within this Holy conclave of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is an eternal Sabbath rest. Sabbath is the symbol of the Son, who when he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3) Each Lord's Day we celebrate this victory and this rest of a heart sprinkled clean from an evil conscience. (Hebrews 10:22)
The Church that Jesus obtained by his own blood is the body of Christ. If there is a haven of rest anywhere on this planet, it is the Church. It is where Jesus is met in the Holy Sacraments of Baptism, Confession, and Eucharist. Anything we can do to help people know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever is the motive of the 'new evangelization.' We can be those who say like Jesus, 'there's someone I would like for you to meet.' The Body of Christ is the incarnation of Jesus on this earth. If the Church looks like Jesus, talks like Jesus, reaches out like Jesus, then the Church must be Jesus. And the message of Jesus for over two thousand years is, "Come unto me…and I will give you rest." Hallelujah!
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, teach me the way of gentleness and humility. Let me find your way for myself, let me show a better way for my family, let me witness to the only way to the Father through you who said, "I am gentle and lowly of heart." Then shall my soul be at rest. Amen.
``O Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the the Name of Jesus...Renew Thy Wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost!!'' Pope John XXIII