Thứ Bảy, 8 tháng 7, 2017


Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 100

Reading 1ZEC 9:9-10
Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,
shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king shall come to you;
a just savior is he,
meek, and riding on an ass,
on a colt, the foal of an ass.
He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,
and the horse from Jerusalem;
the warrior's bow shall be banished,
and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.
His dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

R. (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R. Alleluia.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R. Alleluia.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R.  Alleluia.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2ROM 8:9, 11-13
Brothers and sisters:
You are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. 
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Consequently, brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh. 
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.

AlleluiaCF. MT 11:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

At that time Jesus exclaimed: 
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father. 
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."

"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."

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that passage.

1st Reading - Zechariah 9:9-10

The Book of Zechariah, the name means “Yahweh remembers,” comes chronologically after that of Haggai. The prophet Zechariah belonged to a priestly family which had returned from exile in Babylon. Like Haggai, he was called by God in 520 B.C., the second year of the reign of Darius. He probably lived until very near the time the new Temple was finished.

Working in a literary style quite different from Haggai’s but with the same doctrinal content, Zechariah describes in the first six chapters of his book, by means of eight visions, God’s plan for the restoration of the Temple and of the city of Jerusalem, and promises God’s blessing on Israel. As a prerequisite God asks His people for moral correctness; to be shown in acts of justice and mercy, and obedience to His commandments. In the seventh chapter Zechariah tells the people that fasting is pleasing to God if it stems from genuine piety (in Zechariah’s time the Jews gave much importance to fasting but their motivation was at fault because they were more concerned about appearing to others to be good than about seeking God’s favor).

In the ninth chapter, from which our reading for today comes, Judah is set on one side, Judah’s neighbors on the other. God, whose power extends to all nations, takes Judah’s side, and as a ruler who goes to war for his people, He vanquishes Judah’s neighbors. Then the king of peace arrives; an earthly king able to inaugurate his peaceful reign because of the divine victory.

9    Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!

There is no distinction to be made between Zion and Jerusalem, both names refer to the city itself.

See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he,

There is disagreement among manuscripts and commentators whether the future is one who saves (the Septuagint and vulgate rendering), or one who has been saved, delivered by God (Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible).

Meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.

This does not indicate humility but rather peaceful intent. The horse was the mount in time of war; the ass was put to use for friendly and solemn entry.

10    He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,

A geographical area originally settled by the tribe of Ephraim. The towns include Bethel, Naaran, Gezex, Sheckem, Megiddo, and Dor (1 Chronicles 7:28). At one time it was the largest of the tribes of Israel. Isaiah, Ezekiel and Hosea use the name as a poetic designation of the Northern Kingdom.

and the horse from Jerusalem;

Jerusalem, as used here, it is a designation of the Southern Kingdom.

The warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea,

From the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

The peaceful rule of this king will extend far beyond Judah into the rest of the inhabited world.

2nd Reading - Romans 8:9, 11-13

For the past two weeks we have been looking at what Saint Paul describes as three ages: Adam to Moses which is the natural period represented by the fallen, unhappy family; Moses to Christ which is the legal period in which one nation is the example; and from Christ onward which is the period of international blessing where all nations are blessed and freed from the Law through the grace of Christ. The ancient rabbis often divided their six thousand years of man’s history into these same periods with the understanding that in the last two thousand years the Messiah would give a new law or reinterpret the old one. Saint Paul has recast this period in terms of Jesus the Christ. Chapter 7, which we skip over in our Sunday readings this cycle, contains a description of the doctrine of concupiscence, our tendency to sin as the result of original sin (Romans 7:7-25). In today’s reading we hear Saint Paul tell us that Christian life is lived in the Spirit and is destined for glory because Christian life is empowered by the Spirit.

9 But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.

The word translated as “if only” can also be translated “if, in reality.” The Spirit, the new principle of Christian vitality, is derived from God, the same source as all other manifestations of salvation. The baptized Christian is not only “in the Spirit,” but the Spirit is now said to dwell in him or her.

Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Attachment to Christ is only possible by the indwelling of the Spirit. This is not an external identification with the cause of Christ, or a grateful recognition of what He once did for humanity. The Christian who belongs to Christ is the one empowered to “live for God” through the vitalizing influence of His Spirit. The mention of “Spirit of God” and “Spirit of Christ” in reference to the same Holy Spirit shows that the Spirit comes from the Father and the Son.

11 If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,

As in our second reading last week, the efficiency of the resurrection is attributed to the Spirit of the Father. The power vivifying the Christian is traced to its ultimate source; the Spirit is the manifestation of the Father’s presence and power in the world since the resurrection of Christ and through it.

the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

The future tense expresses the role of the Spirit in the end time resurrection of Christians. At His resurrection Christ became, through the Father’s glory, the principle of the raising of Christians.

“But he who raised Christ up from the dead will raise us up also if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness, not rendering blow for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching.” [Saint Polycarp of Smyrna (ca. A.D. 135), The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 2]

12    Consequently, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

We have an obligation. We are indebted to God to obey His law.

13    For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

We must make use of the Spirit which we have received; this is the debt that is owed to Christ.

“It is right and clear that we are not obliged to follow Adam, who lived according to the flesh, and who by being the first to sin left us an inheritance of sin (see Genesis 3:13-19). On the contrary, we ought rather to obey the law of Christ who, as was demonstrated above, has redeemed us spiritually from death. We are debtors to Him who has washed our spirits, which had been sullied by carnal sins, in baptism, who has justified us and who has made us children of God (see Galatians 3:24-26).” [The Ambrosiaster (between A.D. 366-384), Commentaries on Thirteen Pauline Epistles Romans 8:12]

Gospel - Matthew 11:25-30

Last week we heard the final instructions which Jesus gave His newly commissioned Apostles before sending them out. Jesus has traveled through Galilee but there has not been a national conversion. Instead, in spite of the miracles He has performed, He has largely been ignored and rejected.

25    At that time Jesus said in reply,

This is a typical Jewish blessing formula, except that Jesus refers to God as “Father.”

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed

Divine communication from God

them to little ones.

Literally, the simple, the uneducated

26    Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

Jesus has not reached the wise and prudent; His message has been grasped only by a few disciples who are from the peasant class. Jesus has resigned Himself to this because it is God’s will. There is a sense in which Jewish wisdom and learning, which was the knowledge of the Law, was a genuine obstacle to the understanding of the message of Jesus. The more one knew about the Law, the more difficult it was to see that the Messianic revolution would supersede the Law.

27    All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

Jesus is the absolute Son of the absolute Father. Jesus is the exclusive revelation of the Father. This is a direct contradiction of the Jewish claim to have complete revelation of God in the Law and the Prophets.

28    “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,

Those who are under the yoke of the Law; the metaphor of the yoke is used in rabbinical writings. The import of the saying in itself is more general than this – the weary and the burdened are the poor who have the Good News proclaimed to them. Jesus invites them because He is one of them.

and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you

The yoke and burden of Jesus are submission to the reign of God. This imposes no further burden on those who accept it, but rather makes it easier to bear the burdens they already have.

and learn from me,

The disciple is to be a life-long learner.

for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS

Meditation: "Learn from me and you will find rest for your soul "
Do you want to know the mind and heart of God? Jesus thanks the Father in heaven for revealing to his followers the wisdom and knowledge of God. What does Jesus' prayer tell us about God and about our relationship with him? First, it tells us that God is both Father and Lord of the earth as well as heaven. He is both the Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything. His authority, wisdom, and gracious care extends to every living thing, and his boundless love and goodness is directed to the welfare of each person made in his image and likeness. He is the source of all human life. That is why all fatherhood and motherhood is ultimately derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15).
Pride - the root of sin
Jesus's prayer contrasts the "wisdom of the world" with the wisdom which comes from above - from the Father of heaven who is all wise and good. Jesus' prayer contains an implicit warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God. What makes us ignorant and blind to the wisdom of God? Certainly intellectual pride, coldness of heart, and stubbornness of will shut out God and his wise rule and fatherly care for our personal lives. Pride is the root of all vice and evil and the strongest influence propelling us to sin against God and to do wrong to our neighbor. Sinful pride first vanquishes the heart, making it cold and indifferent towards God. It also closes the mind to God's truth and wisdom for our lives. What is pride's flaw? It is the inordinate love of oneself at the expense of others and the exaggerated estimation of one's own knowledge, power, importance and position over others.
Simplicity and lowliness of heart
Jesus contrasts pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are like "little children" in the sense that they see purely and simply without any pretense or falsehood. They instinctively recognize their utter dependence and reliance on others - especially those who can teach and form them to live strong, healthy, mature lives. No one can grow in wisdom and maturity unless they are willing to be taught and formed in how to live wisely and to distinguish between good and evil, truth and falsehood.
Simplicity of heart is closely linked with humility - the queen of virtues that forgets oneself in order to love and serve others for their sake. The humble of heart are the freest of all - emptied of vanity and self-concern they can single-mindedly focus on the welfare of others. The Lord Jesus is our model. He proclaimed to his disciples, "I am gentle and lowly of heart" (Matthew 11:29). Jesus came "not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for the many" (Matthew 20:28). Jesus' "gentleness" is not weakness or powerlessness. It is "strength under control" which is at the service of good rather than evil.
Jesus humbled himself to lift us out of our misery and slavery to sin in order to raise us up to glory with him and the Father. Jesus came not to bruise the weak but to heal, to pardon and not to condemn, to restore us to abundant life by defeating sin, Satan, and death. It was love for his eternal Father and for each one of us that motivated Jesus to humble himself to death on the cross in order to rescue us from slavery to sin and death. The Lord Jesus shows us the true path of love and victory, freedom and joy, through the cross that defeated pride and hatred, greed and selfishness, guilt and condemnation.
True humility - which is the opposite of false modesty or feeling bad about oneself - frees us to pursue what is good, right, holy, and true. Scripture tells us that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble(Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). Only the humble in heart can receive the wisdom which comes from God and the understanding of God's perfect goodness and plan for our lives. Do you acknowledge your utter dependence on God and do you trust him with your whole heart, mind, and being?
The greatest reward for those who seek the "summum bonum" or "greatest good" is to be united with God - the one and only true source of peace, joy, and happiness that will last forever.
Knowing God personally
Jesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make - he is the perfect revelation of God because he has been with the Father before all creation and time existed. He and the Father are united in an inseparable bond of love and unity. That is why Jesus alone can truly reveal the fullness of God's mind and heart and purpose for our lives.
One of the greatest truths of God's revelation and our Christian faith is that we can know the one true and living God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing some things about God and his true  nature - we can know God our Father and Creator personally because God our Father desires to be closely united with each one of us in a bond of love through his Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus makes it possible for each one of us to have a personal direct relationship and experiential knowledge of God as our loving and gracious Father.
Through Jesus we have access to God the Father
To see the Lord Jesus is to recognize and know the true nature of God and his personal love for us. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God - a God who cares intensely and who yearns over every man and woman whom he has created in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). God the Father loved us even while we were lost in ignorance and blinded by sin and pride. He sent us his Only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who freely gave up his life for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 1:7). Paul the Apostle tells us that Jesus is the image of God (Colossians 1:15). He is the perfect revelation of God - a God who loves us totally, unconditionally, and without reservation. What can separate us from the love of God? Only our own stubborn pride, willfulness, and rebellious attitude towards God and his will for our lives.
Jesus makes an incredible promise to those who acknowledge him as their Lord and Savior. If we pray in his name - the name Jesus means God saves - then the Father in heaven will hear us as if his only begotten Son was speaking to him directly. That is the unity, blessing, and promise he wishes for each one of us. And that is why we have the confidence and boldness to pray as Jesus taught his disciples, Our Father who art in heaven... give us this day our daily bread, and deliver us from temptation.  Do you pray to your Father in heaven with joy and confidence in his perfect love and care for you?
The sweet yoke of Jesus
What does the yoke of Jesus refer to in the Gospel (Matthew 11:29)? The Jews used the image of a yoke to express submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of God. Jesus  says his yoke is "easy". The Greek word for "easy" can also mean "well-fitting". Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. We are commanded to put on the "sweet yoke of Jesus" and to live the "heavenly way of life and happiness".
Jesus also says his "burden is light". There's a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. "That's a heavy load you are carrying there," exclaimed the man. "He ain't heavy; he's my brother!" responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it's given in love and carried in love. Jesus offers us a new kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one.
Freedom from sin and guilt
The yoke of Christ's kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and from the oppression of sinful habits and hurtful desires. Only Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us - and give us a weight of love and glory in exchange. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a burden of glory and yoke of freedom from sin. The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of grace and freedom from the power of sin. Do you trust in God's love and submit to his will and plan for your life?
 "Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersThe grace of Christ bears us up, from an anonymous early Christian teacher
"'My yoke is easy and my burden light'... The prophet says this about the burden of sinners: 'Because my iniquities lie on top of my head, so they have also placed a heavy burden on me' (Psalm 38:4)... 'Place my yoke upon you, and learn from me that I am gentle and humble of heart.' Oh, what a very pleasing weight that strengthens even more those who carry it! For the weight of earthly masters gradually destroys the strength of their servants, but the weight of Christ rather helps the one who bears it, because we do not bear grace; grace bears us. It is not for us to help grace, but rather grace has been given to aid us." (excerpt from the INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW, HOMILY 29: PG 56:780)


(Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8:9,11-13)

KEY VERSE: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (v 28).
TO KNOW: Jesus said that child-like receptivity and obedience to God's will was the key to entering God's reign (Mt 18:3). He demonstrated this by his own relationship with his Father. The Father handed over everything to the Son who received it with a humble heart. In turn, the Son shared his knowledge of God with those who accepted his teaching with simple faith. Jesus gratefully praised God for having revealed the mysteries of the kingdom to these lowly ones (anawim). In contrast, the scholars and religious experts were closed to God's revelation and made it difficult for the unlearned to approach God because of the crushing weight they laid on them by complicating God's Law with endless rules. They made no effort to lighten the load of these obligations, and often neglected the true purpose of the Law themselves (23:4). Jesus invited all those who were burdened by the Law to come to him and accept his yoke, which was "easy.” In Palestine ox-yokes were carefully made and adjusted, so that they would fit well. By taking on the light yoke of obedience to his word, Jesus' followers would not chafe under the Law, but find peace and rest from all that oppressed them.
TO LOVE: Lord Jesus, give me rest from my daily struggles and problems.
TO SERVE: How can I help someone carry their burdens today?​

Sunday 9 July 2017

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Week II Psalter.
Zechariah 9:9-10. Psalm 144(145):1-2, 8-11, 13-14. Romans 8:9, 11-13. Matthew 11:25-30.
I will praise your name forever, my king and my God — Psalm 144(145):1-2, 8-11, 13-14.
‘The Spirit of God has made his home in you.’
We are all spiritual beings, whether we realise this or not, but some of us take long years to discover it. Eventually, we can see that every part of our lives is spiritual. Today Paul is speaking about the spiritual and unspiritual sides of being human.
None of us is perfect. Sometimes we stray towards the unspiritual part of our nature. That is when we encounter difficulties which seem insurmountable. Realising we have drifted away from God and are floundering, we can choose to return and focus on the spiritual. We are able to come back to the company of the Spirit of God. Our attitudes will change again and again. We will be at peace, no matter what or how large our difficulty has been. ‘The Spirit of God has made his home in you.’


On July 9 the Church celebrates the feast of the 120 Martyrs of China. Religious persecution has a long history in China, especially persecution of Christians, thousands of whom have died for their faith in the last millennium.
On October 1, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized 120 men, women, and children who gave their lives for the faith in China between the years 1648 and 1930. The martyrs include 87 native Chinese and 33 foreign missionaries. The majority were killed during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.
“Chinese men and women of every age and state, priests, religious and lay people, showed the same conviction and joy, sealing their unfailing fidelity to Christ and the Church with the gift of their lives,” said the Holy Father during the canonization.
“Resplendent in this host of martyrs are also the 33 missionaries who left their land and sought to immerse themselves in the Chinese world, lovingly assimilating its features in the desire to proclaim Christ and to serve those people.”
Of the 33 foreign-born missionaries, most were priests and religious, including members of the Order of Preachers, Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
One of the more well-known native martyrs was a 14-year-old Chinese girl named Ann Wang, who was killed during the Boxer Rebellion when she refused to apostasize. She bravely withstood the threats of her torturers, and just as she was about to be beheaded, she radiantly declared, “The door of heaven is open to all” and repeated the name of Jesus three times. 
Another of the martyrs was 18-year-old Chi Zhuzi, who had been preparing to receive the sacrament of Baptism when he was caught on the road one night and ordered to worship idols. He refused to do so, revealing his belief in Christ. His right arm was cut off and he was tortured, but he would not deny his faith. Rather, he fearlessly pronounced to his captors, before being flayed alive, “Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian.”
Augustine Zhao Rong was the first native Chinese priest to become a martyr. Born in 1746, he was served as one of the soldiers who escorted Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse to his martyrdom in Beijing. The witness of the bishop led Augustine to seek baptism at age 30. He was ordained a priest five years later and was martyred in 1815.
During the canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II thanked God for blessing the Church with the heroic witness of the 120 martyrs, whom he called “an example of courage and consistency to us all.”

Lectio Divina: 
 Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Good News of the Reign of God revealed to little ones
The Gospel reflects and explains what is happening today
Matthew 11, 25-30
1. Opening prayer
Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.
2. Reading
a) A key to guide the reading:

When Jesus realised that the little ones understood the good news of the Reign, he was very happy. Spontaneously he turned to the Father with a prayer of thanksgiving and extended a generous invitation to all those suffering and oppressed by the burden of life. The text reveals Jesus’ kindness in welcoming little ones and his goodness in offering himself to the poor as the source of rest and peace.
b) A division of the text to help with the reading:

Mt 11,25-26: Prayer of thanks to the Father
Mt 11,27: Jesus presents himself as the way which leads to the Father
Mt 11,28-30: An invitation to all who suffer and are oppressed
c) The text:

25-26: At that time Jesus exclaimed, 'I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do.
27: Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28-30: 'Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.'
3. A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may enter into us and enlighten our life.
4. Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) Which part of the text caught my attention most and pleased me most?
b) In the first part (25-27), Jesus turns to the Father. What image of the Father does Jesus reveal in his prayer? What is it that urges him to praise the Father? What image do I have of God? When and how do I praise the Father?
c) To whom does Jesus turn in the second part (28-30)? What was the greatest burden carried by the people in those days? What burden is most burdensome today?
d) Which burden comforts me?
e) How can Jesus’ words help our community to be a place of rest in our lives?
f) Jesus presents himself as the one who reveals the Father and as the way to Him. Who is Jesus for me?

5. A key to the reading
for those who wish to go deeper into the text.
a) The literary context of Jesus’ words: chapters 10-12 of Matthew’s Gospel.
* In Matthew’s Gospel, the discourse on the Mission takes up the whole of chapter 10. In the narrative after chapters 11 and 12, where we find a description of how Jesus fulfils the Mission, Jesus has to face incomprehension and resistance. John the Baptist, who looked at Jesus with an eye to the past, could not understand him (Mt 11: 1-15). The people, who looked at Jesus with and eye to self-interest, were incapable of understanding him (Mt 11: 16-19). The big cities around the lake that had heard the preaching and seen the miracles will not open themselves to his message (Mt 11: 20-24). The scribes and doctors, who judged everything according to their knowledge, were not capable of understanding Jesus’ words (Mt 11: 25). Not even do his relatives understand him (Mt 12: 46-50). Only the little ones understand him and accept the good news of the Reign (Mt 11: 25-30). The others look for sacrifices, but Jesus wants mercy (Mt 1: 8). This resistance to Jesus leads the Pharisees to want to kill him (Mt 12: 9-14). They call him Beelzebub (Mt 12: 22-32). But Jesus does not retreat; he goes on with his mission of Servant as described in the prophet Isaiah (Is 42: 1-4) and cited in its entirety by Matthew (12: 15-21).
* Thus the context in chapters 10-12 suggests that the acceptance of the good news by the little ones is the fulfilment of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus is the awaited Messiah, but he is not what the majority expected him to be. He is not the glorious nationalist Messiah, nor is he a strict judge, nor a powerful king Messiah. He is the humble Messiah, the servant who "will not break the crushed reed, nor put out the smouldering wick" (Mt 12: 20). He will fight on until justice and right will prevail in the world (Mt 12: 18,20-21). The acceptance of the Reign by the little ones is the light that shines (Mt 5: 14) and the salt which flavours (Mt 5: 13) and the mustard seed which (when fully grown) will provide room for the birds of the air to nest there among its branches (Mt 13: 31-32).
b) A brief comment on Jesus’ words:
* Matthew 11: 25-26: Only the little ones can understand and accept the good news of the Reign.
Jesus experiences a great joy when the little ones welcome the message of the Reign, and, spontaneously, he transforms his joy into a prayer of jubilation and thanksgiving to the Father: I bless you, Father, of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. The learned, the doctors of that time, had created a series of laws concerning legal purity, which they then imposed on the people in the name of God (Mt 15:" 1-9). They thought that God demanded every single observance, so that the people might acquire peace. But the law of love, revealed by Jesus, said otherwise. In fact, what matters is not that which we do for God, but rather that which God, in his great love, does for us. The little ones heard this good news and rejoiced. The learned and the doctors could not understand this teaching. Today, as then, Jesus is teaching many things to the poor and to the little ones. The learned and intelligent would do well to learn at the feet of these little ones.
Jesus prayed much! He prayed with his disciples, he prayed with the people, he prayed alone. He spent whole nights in prayer. He managed to express his message in one prayer that contains seven concerns, namely, the Our Father. Sometimes, as in this case, the Gospels tell us the content of Jesus’ prayer (Mt 11: 25-26; 26: 39; Jn 11: 41-42; 17: 1-26). At other times, they tell us that Jesus prayed the Psalms (Mt 26: 30; 27: 46). In most cases, however, they just say that Jesus prayed. Today, everywhere prayer groups are increasing.
In Matthew’s Gospel, the term little ones (elakistoi, mikroi, nepioi) sometimes refers to children and sometimes to a group of people excluded from society. It is not easy to distinguish. Sometimes, that which one Gospel calls little ones, another Gospel calls children. Also, it is not easy to distinguish between that which comes from the time of Jesus and that which is from the time of the communities for whom the Gospels were written. But even so, what is clear is the context of exclusion that prevailed then and the image of Jesus as a person who welcomed the little ones that the early communities had of him
* Matthew 11: 27: The origin of the new Law: the Son who knows the Father
Jesus, as Son, knows the Father and knows that which the Father wanted when, in times gone by, he had called Abraham and Sarah to form a people or when he entrusted the Law to Moses to form a covenant. The experience of God as Father helped Jesus to perceive in a new manner the things that God had said in the past. It helped him to recognise errors and limitations, where the good news of God was imprisoned by the dominant ideology. His intimacy with the Father gave him a new criterion that placed him in direct contact with the author of the Bible. Jesus did not move from the letter to the source, but from the source to the letter. He sought the meaning at its origin. To understand the meaning of a letter, it is important to study the words it contains. But Jesus’ friendship with the author of the letter helped him uncover a deeper dimension in those words, which study alone could not reveal.
* Matthew 11: 28-30
Jesus invites all those who are weary and promises them rest. The people of that time lived wearily, under the double burden of levies and the observances demanded by the laws of purity. And Jesus says, Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God had invited the people to examine the past in order to discover the right way that could give them rest for their souls ( Jer 6: 16). This right way now appears in Jesus. Jesus offers rest for souls. He is the way (Jn 14:6).
Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. Like Moses, Jesus was gentle and humble (Num 12: 3). Many times this phrase has been manipulated to bring people into submission, meekness and passivity. Jesus wants to say the opposite. He asks that people, in order to understand the things of the Reign, not give so much importance to the "learned and doctors", that is, to the official teachers of religion of the time, and that they trust more in the little ones. Those oppressed must begin to learn from Jesus that he is "gentle and humble in heart".
Often, in the Bible the word humble is synonymous with humbled. Jesus, unlike the scribes who flaunted their knowledge, identified himself with the humble and humbled people. He, our Master, knew from experience what was in the hearts of people and how much people suffered in their daily lives.
c) Light on Jesus’ attitude:
* Jesus’ style in proclaiming the good news of the Reign
In his manner of proclaiming the good news of the Reign, Jesus reveals a great passion for the Father and for the humiliated people. Unlike the doctors of his time, Jesus proclaims the good news of God wherever he meets people who will listen to him. In synagogues during the celebration of the Word (Mt 4: 23). In the homes of friends (Mt 13: 36). When walking along the streets with his disciples (Mt 12: 1-8). On the seashore, at the edge of the beach, sitting in a boat (Mt 13: 1-3). On the mountain, where he proclaims the beatitudes (Mt 5: 1). In the squares of villages and cities, where people bring their sick (Mt 14: 34-36). Even in the temple in Jerusalem, at the time of pilgrimages (Mt 26: 55)! In Jesus, everything is the revelation of that which animates his inner being! He not only proclaims the good news of the Reign, he is living proof of the Reign. In him we see what happens when someone allows God to reign and take possession of his/her life.
* The Divine Wisdom’s invitation to all who seek it
Jesus invites all those who suffer under the burden of life to find rest and comfort in him (Mt 11: 25-30). This invitation echoes the beautiful words of Isaiah who comforted the weary people in exile (Is 55: 1-3). This invitation stands in correlation to Divine Wisdom, which calls people to itself (Sir 24: 18-19), saying that "her ways are delightful ways, her paths all lead to contentment" (Prov 3: 17). Again, Wisdom says, "Wisdom brings up her own sons, and cares for those who seek her. Whoever loves her loves life, those who wait on her early will be filled with happiness" (Si 4: 11-12). This invitation reveals a very important feminine aspect of God: the gentleness and welcome that comforts, revitalises the person and makes it feel well. Jesus is the comfort that God gives to a weary people!
6. Psalm 132
The prayer of the little ones
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too
great and too marvellous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a child quieted at its mother's breast;
like a child that is quieted is my soul.
O Israel, hope in the Lord from this
time forth and for evermore.
7. Final Prayer
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.