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14th SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME – 7-6-2014

Learn from the Yoke of Jesus

Why do so many people stop living the Christian life? Well, it is a burden. They feel like it takes away their freedom. They would rather just do what they want to do, live without thought of sin and consequences. This is what St. Paul calls in the second reading “living in the flesh.” They come to the belief that they don’t need God and so become full of themselves. But others find that they need God because they are burdened by life, by the demands of the flesh – by the labor needed to gain money to buy things, the work needed to look beautiful to be accepted, the efforts to be popular in order to have friendships. They are the “little ones” which Christ speaks of in today’s Gospel. They are not full of themselves and so are able to be filled with God, with his simplicity, with his love.

How about you? Are you satisfied with living simply for the pleasures of the flesh? Are you strong and wise by yourself? Or do you need God? Do you need his Spirit? Do you need to come worship him and receive his love and comfort every Sunday? Do you turn to Him when you are having a bad day?

Even Jesus who is the Son of God had bad days. He became weary in life. He got frustrated when people did not listen to him or take him seriously. In fact today’s Gospel takes place right after he was rejected by many towns. Have you ever felt rejected by others? Have you ever felt that you do not fit in? Well, today’s Gospel is for you. We get a chance to see how Jesus handles this burden. When Jesus felt rejected by others in the world, does he get depressed and seek to cover his pains through the pleasures of the flesh: eating, drinking, look for a woman, watch T.V. or the internet for hours until his brain is numb. No! Jesus responds to life’s disappointments with these words: “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.”

It was in the difficult times that Jesus felt closest to his heavenly Father. That’s how Jesus handled the burdens of life. And so when things get tough we should not get depressed but praise God! That sounds weird and counter-cultural. And it is! But we should praise God always because he will take care of us. Try it next time you have a difficult time or feel depressed. Praise God for awhile and see if you don’t feel consoled.

We have to learn from Jesus. He says:

“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.”

These words are very comforting and consoling. But Many don’t see the Christian life as a consolation but rather a burden. Yes, being Catholic is a new way of life. It is a “yolk” that we must learn to carry. A “yolk” was an instrument used by animals for work. It had space for two so that the burden could be shared. And so it seems hard or even impossible to live the Christian life. But we are not to do it alone. Jesus promises to help us carry all the burdens and responsibilities that come with it. In doing so we are freed from just living for the pleasures of the flesh which feels like freedom but leads us to slavery. So the Christian life is not given to oppress us but to free us.

But it is true that the Catholic faith can seem to be a bunch of rules that we have to follow, that burden us. This is true because some well intentioned Christians interpret it like the Pharisees interpreted the Jewish Law. They had to do everything right and so used it to oppress people not to help them or set them free. So faith can be abused by those who claim to know it well. They become the “wise and the learned” that Jesus spoke of in the Gospel. They believe they know God but God hides himself from them because they are full of themselves. In their pride they arrogantly, or even angrily, condemn others rather than judge them with mercy. They don’t have the Spirit of Christ in them. Pope Francis has been trying to warn us about this overly formalized view where faith is used as a weapon to hurt others rather than a means of helping them find rest in the meek and humble Heart of Jesus. So the two extremes are, those who just live by the flesh, or those who use the faith to become too rigid. Both live by their own spirit and not by the Holy Spirit: One ways is based on a false sense of freedom and the other on fear and self-righteousness. So how do we avoid falling into the extremes? We must remain like “the little ones” who God reveals his secrets to. This way the Spirit of Christ will be in us.

Many of our young adults are about to receive Confirmation which will fully initiate them into the Church. The Holy Spirit will give them many gifts to live the Christian life in service of others. In a sense they will become adult Catholics. But to be an adult Christian means that you have come to realize that you are a child of God, one of his “little ones.” The test of this mature Christianity is whether you admit that you need God and speak to him as your Father like Jesus did; whether you come back to mass every Sunday to praise him; whether you live in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Christ shares his Spirit with us so that we can be a Christian witness to others and serve those in need.

And so today Jesus reveals to us his heart so that we can become meek and humble like him and live our lives to help others carry their load. Then we will find that living the Christian life is not a burden but is easy and light, and we will be inspired in good times and in especially in bad times, to praise God who is close to us at all times. Amen.

Padre Timothy Gallagher

7-4-14


St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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