14th Sunday OTA

Zec 9: 9-10;              Rom 8: 9, 11-13;               Mt 11: 25-30

A man came home from a long day of counting ballots at the Board of Elections in his area. He said to his wife, “We won, dear. I am now a state representative. “Not sure she heard correctly, she said, “Honestly!” He said in reply, “now don’t bring anything up about honesty!” Since we all continue to celebrate the Independence day, I wish you once again a Happy 4th of July. Often we see Independence Day is marked by fireworks, barbecues and parades. Seldom people come together to thank for God for this land of freedom. I invite you today to pray one our father, one Hail Mary and Glory be… for our nation before you leave the church.

There are several phrases associated with the Statue of Liberty, but the most recognizable is “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This quote comes from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet. Today’s readings, especially the Gospel, give the same message in a more powerful way: “Take my yoke . . . and you will find rest.”

In the first reading, the prophet Zechariah consoles the Jews living in Palestine under Greek rule, promising them a “meek” Messianic King of peace riding on a donkey, who  will give them rest and liberty. The responsorial psalm praises and thanks a kind and compassionate God who “raises up those who are bowed down” under heavy yokes. In the second reading, Paul tells the first-century Roman Christian community about two yokes, namely, the “flesh” and the “Spirit,” and challenges them to reject the heavy and fatal yoke of the flesh and accept the light yoke of the Spirit of Jesus.

A few years ago, The Comprehensive Care Corporation of Tampa, Florida published a booklet about stress in our modern world. The facts are disturbing. (1) One out of four (that’s 25% of Americans) suffers from mild to moderate depression, anxiety, loneliness and other painful symptoms which are attributed mainly to stress. (2) Approximately half of all diseases can be linked to stress-related origins. (3) Unmanaged stress is a leading factor in homicides, suicides, child abuse, spouse abuse and other aggravated assaults. (4) The problem of stress is taking a tremendous toll economically, also. Americans are now spending 64.9 billion dollars a year trying to deal with the issue of stress. That is why Jesus shared the “Good News” with us a long time ago when He said: “Come to me all of you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28).

In the Gospel, Jesus offers rest to those “who labor and are burdened” if they will accept his “easy yoke and light burden.” Don’t expect that Jesus is going to make us rich and take all our problems away. He did promise a cross to those who follow him. Life itself has many crosses, whether we follow Jesus or not. It’s a lot easier when we have Jesus as part of our everyday lives.

 By following Jesus, a man will find peace, rest, and refreshment. We are burdened by so many things: business, concerns about jobs, marriage, money, health, children, security, old age and a thousand other things. Jesus’ concern for our burdens is as real as his concern for the law-burdened Jews of his day.   “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest” (11: 28). The yoke of Christ is not just a yoke from Christ but also a yoke with him. A yoke is fashioned for a pair — for a team working together. So we are not yoked alone to pull the plow by our own unaided power; we are yoked together with Christ to work with Him using His strength.

Jesus said, “Come to me.” “Come” is the word I want to stress here. He has already come to us, through his birth, his teachings and miracles, his death and resurrection, through grace and sacraments. He has come as far as possible. Coming to him implies we have to move closer in our relationship with him daily. Once again I say, life itself has many crosses, whether we follow Jesus or not. It’s a lot easier when we have Jesus as part of our everyday lives. God bless you all!