Sunday, July 5
My dear Parishioners,
Here is my homily for Sunday, July 5, 2020, the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
We hear great words of comfort in the Gospel today: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest…take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart…you will find rest for yourselves for my yoke is easy and my burden is light…”
These words have very important significance for us especially in these days as we face the tensions of the spiking COVID-19, and the continuing racial tensions present in our midst.
We need comfort…we need rest…but how do we find these gifts that Jesus is offering to us?
First we ask, what is a yoke? “A yoke is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs.”
Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you…” In other words, Jesus is asking us to take on even more burden, not only ours, but his; but in yoking together, he promises that the burden then becomes less and we find rest and refreshment…
When we are willing to take on and share the burden of Jesus, we are willing to look at the world, not as we see it, but as Jesus looks at the world, as Jesus sees the world, and as it should be in the vision of Jesus…
As we see and respond to the medical tensions and racial tensions in our world today, when taking on the yoke of Jesus, we no longer ask “what do I see and how will I respond?” but rather, in a very simplistic phrase that has become popular in recent years, we ask, “What would Jesus do?”
How would Jesus respond to COVID-19? How would Jesus respond to the cries for racial justice we hear today?
Our burdens become lighter and easier when we take on the response of Jesus, and not our own response that grows out of our own needs and concerns which oftentimes are very selfish.
When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus was always concerned about the common good, not just what is best for me, but what is best for us, our society, for all us.
When we only care for ourselves, or our own little segment of society, our own little piece of the pie, things fall apart, be it medically or racially…
When we are yoked to Jesus, we are always looking out for the common good, for all of us, looking out to the world as God sees the world, and as God calls the world to be.
When we are yoked to Jesus, the discussion is not “Is a mask an infringement on my freedom? But rather the response is: “a mask is a tool to keep us, all of us, safer.” We do this for the common good.
When we are yoked to Jesus, our pronouncement, and our cry is not, “I am not a racist, so I do not need to listen and try to understand the pleas that I hear and the protests that I see…this is not my struggle.” But rather the response is: “what can I do to better understand and respond to my brothers and sisters cries for help, as we work to create a more perfect union.”
When we are yoked to Jesus, it is no longer about me, it is always about us!
And when it is not just about me, when it is about us, Jesus promises that the questions and the answers become easier, and the burdens do become lighter.
This weekend we celebrate Independence Day.
244 years ago, these words were proclaimed as part of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…
And for the last 244 years we have been and continue to try to make these words ever more true, continually working to create a more perfect union.
Ironically, we have discovered is that for the words of the Declaration of Independence to come alive and to stay alive we must declare a “Declaration of Inter-dependence”.
The only way we as a people can survive is to recognize our need to be inter-dependent, to realize that we are a part of a whole, needing to work together, for the sake of the common good.
For us as Christians, we need to be yoked to Jesus…when we are yoked to Jesus, it is never just about me, but it is always, about us working for the common good.
This weekend, as we celebrate the many and great freedoms of this amazing nation, let us be mindful of the need for inter-dependence, not independence…
As Christians, we remain yoked to Jesus who lightens our burdens, and in the face of the pandemic and in the face of the racial tensions pressing upon us, will refresh us.
Whenever it is not just about me, but when it is about us, about the common good, the burdens are lightened and we find rest!
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.