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Ordinary Time 14 (A)
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Readings for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A


1. Zechariah 9, 9-10

  • Well, the reading is short and I have heard it before, in church and as a spirited soprano aria (Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Rejoice greatly!) in The Messiah.  So how do I make it memorable for our assembly today? 
  • As a religious man I renounce the use of war to achieve national ends.  So this kind of warrior king is very attractive to me, and perhaps to my listeners.  Meek and riding on an ass.  He shall banish the horse, the chariot, the bow. 
  • He shall proclaim peace to the nations.  Now who among my listeners looks forward anxiously to a message of peace?  Some parents have children on the front lines.  Some have relatives living under an oppressive regime.  Others are just plain afraid of the violence they perceive around them.  What meaning can I bring to them that overcomes the fear and cynicism about our world?  What difference does our faith make for the real crises we face?
  • But this peace is God’s peace, the time of global blessings when all oppression is banished and everyone deals with their neighbor in justice.  If I read the phrase with as much energy and feeling as others recite the names of our servicepeople, maybe the homilist will say more about this unusual Messiah.
  • Central idea: The king deliverer revealed in the prophet’s words is unlike any hero in our experience.  Let the images of justice, meekness and peace build up in the people’s imagination, because these are the ways of God.  This will be my message to them: God does not want war and does not bless our wars.  The God revealed to us is a God of peace who banishes the warrior’s bow. 
  • I will ask myself: Is this Messiah the answer to my prayers?  Is this prophecy an empty dream or a slice of truth?  I will challenge myself to read this passage as if he is sent to us from God.

 

2. Romans 8, 9 and 11-13

  • The apostle is reminding his listeners of their new mutual calling.  Everyone says with him: We are not debtors to the flesh.  In Romans he laid out for a young church the new responsibility, the new accountability they must assume.  A few chapters later he mentions the only remaining debt: that of love for each other.
  • What are the foundations and connecting threads that I can use to make this text come alive for our young church?  It certainly sounds like a dictation, in which I begin by stating a position and circle back several times to underline my point.
  • The apostle is saying that we have to re-order our lives.  I hear this at the beginning (You are in the Spirit) and at the end of the reading (If you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live).  So I can open with a kind of wake-up call to the assembly, and end with a confident climax, resting my case.
  • And his appeal is founded on Christ.  That is what I hear in the middle: If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.  This “if” clause is not spoken as a condition that we may or may not be able to satisfy, and so I am not intending to threaten anyone in a hell-fire sense.  No, this “if” is spoken in a definitive way: “since” this is so, “since” God is with us, then the gift of life is ours.  So to be true to the apostle I will speak it today as an exhortation.
  • The message for our assembly: We are swept up into the mystery of the resurrection in this and every mass.  There is a Spirit that dwells in you.  We are not any longer the center and object of our existence.
  • Central point: This is a positive message, filled with the words Spirit and life.  The two realities are linked.  God is at work in us leading us toward life. 
  • I will challenge myself: To turn all those negative phrases into positives, and so to invite my listeners to come into the warmth of the Spirit.

 

Gospel. Matthew 11, 25-30

  • This time a tender aria from The Messiah echoes in my thoughts: Come unto him all ye that labor (And the tripping chorus that follows: His yoke is easy).  How lucky can a reader get in a single week? 
  • This passage has three different wisdom sayings, and Jesus is speaking them all.  The first is a prayer to God, in the style of John.  I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.  It is a prayer of amazement that we have probably spoken a few times in our roles as parents, teachers or coaches, when the experienced people don’t get something but the little ones catch on immediately.  I once wrote a lyric about this: “Little children understand.”  At a children’s mass the homilist can take full advantage of the opportunity. 
  • The second saying has to do with Jesus and the Father, and ourselves as well.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  Of the three sayings this one may not catch our attention, but in a way it connects them all.  It is the simple people, after all, who do not dismiss such foolishness as the incarnation mystery, that a man like us could be so identified with God.  I shall speak these words in that kind of simplicity and clarity.  And when I get to the last phrase – anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him – I will make it clear that it is entirely up to us.  Jesus invites us to be open to this revelation and will reveal God to us if we so desire.  My look on the assembly will show this.
  • The third saying is the most well known, thanks in part to Handel and to the devotees of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I think the words say it all, and I only need to get out of the way.  Jesus is inviting us to be his disciples.
  • Climax: Jesus tells us: Come to me and I will give you rest. 
  • Message for our assembly: Here is the invitation to be disciples of Jesus.  For God’s sake, don’t hold back.
  • I will challenge myself: To treat each of the three sayings in a memorable way, so that everyone is touched and encouraged to answer Yes to his invitation.

Word to Eucharist: From many nations and walks of life we have been called to be his disciples.  All of us are invited to come to him.  And Jesus reveals the father to each one.  What does that mean for our communion with him?

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