Reflections on the Readings
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 3, 2011 - Year A
By Dennis S. Hankins
With Wide Open Arms
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give your rest." - Jesus
Perhaps you are a favorite uncle or aunt. Mothers and fathers know about it too. There you stand with wide open arms coaxing that little son or daughter, or niece or nephew to jump without fear into your open arms. "I'll catch you," you beckon with absolute assurance. And then she jumps with complete abandonment into your open embrace and you both laugh and hug. Then scrambling out of your arms she exclaims, "Do it again! Do it again!"
That's what Jesus does for us again and again. He invites us to trust him with our life - to throw ourselves into his arms. Revealing to us 'little ones' the heart of his Father, Jesus invites us into an eternal embrace. It is in the heart of the Father, that holy place of welcome, where we find this solace of the Spirit; this indescribable end of our estrangement. This understanding is found deep within the womb of the Church. It is the place where through baptism Jesus makes known to us the 'hidden things,' the deep things of God. For no one knows the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
On Monday we will celebrate Independence Day in America. The Fourth of July marks the time we reflect again on the founding documents of our Republic, and on the high ideals upon which our Country is built. The New Colossus, a sonnet by Emma Lazarus, is engraved on a plaque affixed inside the Statue of Liberty. Its inspiring words include:
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my light beside the golden door!"
These words form and shape our attitude for all who seek the riches of freedom. She, the Statue of Liberty, lifts high a guiding and welcoming torch at the doorway of America. The Cross is also a guiding and inviting symbol. Upon it our Savior was lifted high to the sky. Suspended between heaven and earth, Jesus died for you and me with wide open arms; arms open wide enough to love and embrace the whole world. Neil Enloe wrote:
Oh the cross is my Statue of Liberty, It was there that my soul was set free; Unashamed I'll proclaim that a rugged cross Is my Statue of Liberty!
The Church invites the confused and forsaken masses of the world. To its refreshing shores the Church welcomes the broken hearted and the bruised. Everyone carrying the scars of a wayward and rebellious past are welcome. All who are oppressed by the devil will find relief. And those who are poor from the lack of true love; those who are poor because they never had a loving father or a caring mother; those who are poor because they have no friends, no family, no faith - here in this place will find a haven of rest and unconditional love. All are welcome in this place - all are welcome in this family!
We are reminded today in this Holy Eucharist that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. As we worship today, we again feast at the Table of the Lord. And with eager delight, Jesus, with wide open arms says to you and to me, "Come to me, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. And you will find rest for your souls." Amen.