Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend, the first biblical reading is from the Book of Zechariah.
It is thought that Zechariah was of the priestly caste and was born in Babylon when many Jews were languishing in exile in the Babylonian capital. It was a miserable time for the exiles, since, quite understandably, they longed to return home.
Human nature being what it always has been, the contemporaries of Zechariah must have felt disappointment that the merciful God had left them in their plight.
Zechariah urged people not to lose hope in the power and protection of God. One day, in God’s good time, they would go home. God, their true king, would lead them. He would safeguard them from the bows and arrows of their oppressors. He would be mighty and invincible, leading them into Jerusalem while riding a colt.
The reading for this weekend captures the intense yearning of the people to be rescued. It must have seemed to be slow in coming, but Zechariah called the people to take heart. God would come. They would be at home again.
The image that he drew of God, as their leader, guiding them homeward, brings to mind the story of the Lord’s entry into the holy city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, an event that actually would occur many centuries after Zechariah and his promise.
St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans provides the second reading. In this selection, Paul repeats the theme so often given in his writings: Christians not only follow Christ, or join Christ, in their own individual walks through life, but the Lord becomes part of them, and they become part of Jesus. Christian discipleship forges this strong a bond.
This profound union and identity with Christ is a theme in Paul’s writings.
The last reading is from St. Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus continually encountered persons very well-educated in the Scriptures. Often, they opposed the Lord. Yet, in the minds of many at the time, they were the wisest and most learned in the society, and often they had a high estimate of themselves.
Jesus insisted that the wisest in popular consensus were not the wisest after all. By contrast, the Lord says that humble and innocent children often can better see the greatest truths.
Rather than denouncing the arrogant, abandoning people to drown in the sea of their own pride and ignorance, the Lord calls all. He reaches to them. He tells them of reality, shows them a better way.
It is typical. Jesus identifies sin and human folly. He always points the way to righteousness.
The Gospel this weekend presents facts indispensable to Christian doctrine and to achieving Christian holiness. None of us, in the last analysis, is perfectly insightful. Original sin has robbed us of our good vision. We all look at a world with blurred vision, out of focus. Everything is distorted and unclear. We are myopic.
In this fog, we are afraid. Uncertain, nervous, we think only of ourselves. In our inadequacy, even though not identified, we exaggerate ourselves. We make ourselves greater than we are.
We deceive ourselves. We trick ourselves into thinking that we can find the way on our own. We cannot. Only God can show the way.
Mercifully, happily for us, God shows us the way in Jesus. Jesus not only leads us, but also gives us divine life itself. As true believers, we live in Jesus, and the Lord lives in us.
The key to attaining this relationship is our humility, our trust in God.
We do not have to yearn for God without relief. God awaits our call. He loves us with an everlasting, perfect love. He will come to us. Thus, with Zechariah, we can rejoice. The Lord will come to us.
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