The promised coming of a Davidic Messiah
FIRST READING—God’s holy prophets promised the fulfillment of the eternal covenant Yahweh made with the House of David in the promised coming of a Davidic Messiah whose rule was to extend over all nations. In the First Reading, the sixth century BC prophet Zechariah describes a vision of the future Messiah’s entry into the holy city of Jerusalem. He will not come, Zechariah writes, as a conquering king. The promised kingly heir of David will come to His people as a just Savior, meek and humble and riding on the foal of an ass.
Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14
God, the Greater King
PSALM—In the Responsorial Psalm, attributed to King David of Israel, David acknowledges an authority higher than himself. It is Almighty God, who is the greater King, and David is His humble servant. David was, like all human beings, an imperfect man. However, he loved God with all his heart and was always ready to confess his sins and to accept God’s punishments to restore his relationship with his Lord and God. It was for this reason that Yahweh chose to make an eternal covenant with David, promising that his throne would endure forever in a Davidic Messiah who would rule with God’s authority over all the earth.
Romans 8:9, 11-13
Life in the Spirit
SECOND READING—In the Second Reading, St. Paul writes that Jesus’ “Law of love” gives the promise of a new spiritual life. Unlike life in the flesh, “life in the spirit” promises an eternal “rest” in fellowship with God. It is a guarantee of spiritual life that has a present and future reality. However, by living in the Spirit of Christ, Christians can look forward to being alive in the future in a way that makes the present reality a pale counterfeit kind of living.
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus’ prayer of thanksgiving and his invitation
We need to unload our burdens before the Lord
One of the effects of Worship for many of us is that it gives us a time for rest and refreshment, when we let the overheated radiators of our hectic lives cool down before the Lord. This is especially true when we unload the burdens of our sins and worries on the altar and offer them to God during the Holy Mass. But whether we are in Church, alone in our quiet spot where we come before God each day, in our homes, or in the homes of our friends and neighbors, we find that prayer and Christian fellowship bring us the rest and refreshment that we all need so much. There is nothing quite like coming to the Lord and setting aside our burdens for a while – nothing quite like having our batteries recharged, our radiators cooled down, and our spirits lifted.
Jesus promises us rest from the burdens that we carry — rest from the burdens of sins, legalism, and judgment, from the weight of anxiety and worry, from the yoke of unrewarding labor, and from the endless labor for that which cannot satisfy. The absolution and forgiveness, which, as repentant sinners, we receive in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, take away our spiritual burden and enable us to share the joy of the Holy Spirit.
Life’s greatest burden is not having too much to do, nor having too much demanding our attention and care. Some of the happiest folk are the busiest and those who care the most. Rather, the greatest burden we have is our constant engagement with the trivial and the unimportant, with the temporary and the passing, and with the ultimately uncontrollable and unpredictable. The issue in life is not whether we shall be burdened, but with what we shall be burdened.
The question is not “Shall we be yoked?” but “To what and with whom shall we be yoked?” Jesus has no interest in unburdening us from our exaggerated self-esteem and from other modern infatuations (which are themselves debilitating burdens), in order to leave us with nothing to carry, no work to do. Instead, Jesus is interested in lifting off our backs the burdens that drain us and suck the life out of us, so that he can place around our necks his own yoke, his burden, that brings to us and to others through us, new life, new energy, new joy.
God’s incomparable, compassionate forgiveness is a gift that releases us into life with God as responsible human beings who want to grow deeper in love and joyful obedience. We are called not only to find peace, refreshment and rest for ourselves, but also to live the kind of life through which others, too, may find God’s peace, God’s refreshing grace, and the joy of placing their lives in God’s hands.
Visit Fr. Tony’s Homilies each week for an introduction to the Sunday readings, scripture lessons, homily starter anecdotes, a summary of each of the scripture readings, and Gospel exegesis. Fr. Tony’s Life Messages have be used with permission.
Praying with the Word
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours.
Responding to God’s Word
Tackle with prayer and effort one ‘flesh attitude’ that hinders your spiritual growth. Give your burdens to Christ. Reach out to someone who is carrying a heavy burden.
My God, I want to have confidence in your love, but so many things seem to hold me back: past wounds, past hurts, past betrayals, past sins—mine and others’. Open my eyes. Open my heart. Enable me to take the leap of faith that is needed now. Holiness isn’t a matter of starting to love you some time in the future, or even tomorrow. I don’t have to wait until I become a better person, more worthy, more virtuous.It’s a matter of trusting in your mercy today, just as I am. You showed this to the saints; show me, too, and give me a spirit of great confidence. I ask this through your beloved Son, our merciful Saviour. Amen. — Elizabeth Ruth Obbard (For Trust And Confidence In God)
I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God. — Helen Keller
Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for detailed commentary and other resources regarding the readings for this Sunday.
INTRODUCTION — Today’s hopeful readings are full of promise. These words speak to people coming out of exile, to Jesus’ followers who are burdened, to those struggling to live as early Christians. Living in a time when we are burdened by information, negative or misleading, or disinformation as well as serious divisions and threats, we, too, need encouragement. We seek honorable leaders and words we can trust. Do we allow God’s word to be a true source of good news for us? What would happen if we allowed ourselves to accept Jesus’ invitation to come to him for rest?
|Lord Jesus, you recognized that your followers were heavily burdened: Lord, have mercy.||Christ Jesus, you invited them to come to you and learn from you: Christ, have mercy.||Lord Jesus, you offer the same invitation to us, who are also burdened: Lord, have mercy.|
NCR SUNDAY RESOURCES – Joan DeMerchant
EXCERPT – Fear can paralyze us. Fear can undo the good that we are trying to accomplish. That is why Jesus’ words in today’s gospel are so important. Jesus tells us that if we come to him, if we place our fear into his hands, he will put our souls at rest. He will calm our hearts. Now notice that Jesus does not promise to take the causes of our fear away or to lift the burdens from our shoulders. But he says that if we trust him, we can carry those burdens, because his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
BUILDING ON THE WORD – Fr. George Sigma
EXCERPT — In the first reading, from Zechariah, the prophet describes a time of peace and holiness. As his community had experienced invasion, war and exile, Zechariah prophesies that a divine warrior king will dismantle armies and destroy weapons to bring peace throughout the world. Sometimes, the divine warrior imagery in the Old Testament seems problematic in its depiction of a violent God. While these concerns are valid and caution is needed when wrestling with such images, for communities who endured hardship, these images could be a saving grace and a reflection of divine love.
AMERICA MAGAZINE – Jamie Waters
EXCERPT – Does the Church you know lift your burdens or does it impose heavier ones on your shoulders? When you come from having celebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist on Sunday,do you feel lighter, less weighed down, better able to cope with the ordinary burdens of life? Or do you come away with a renewal of guilt, with a fresh awareness of shame, with more unworthiness than when you went in? Jesus promises that if we go to him, we will find rest for our souls. The Church believes and teaches that Jesus can be encountered in the fellowship of the believing community, in the word proclaimed in the assembly of faith, in the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. We have encountered Jesus when we went to church!
ECHOING GOD’S WORD – Rev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017)
EXCERPT – Mere flesh, sarx, the debased, sin-ruled body, is earth-bound human existence left to itself. Flesh, in this sense, is dominated by the organic drives for self-maintenance and enhancement, even at the expense of others, until the force of death holds sway… Without civic prohibitions, we would “take any one as a sexual object, kill any rival or anyone else who stands in the way, and carry off any of the other’s belongings.” …The life [Paul] knew, however, transcended the world of mere flesh. The body inspirited could become a temple of eternal promise. It could sing of love, play in joy, console with gentle compassion, touch with kindness—all those gifts of the Spirit that make the human body revelatory of God.
SUNDAY WEB SITE – Father John Kavanaugh, SJ
THIS WEEK’S CATECHISM EXCERPTS
“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.”
From the Homiletic Directory
- CCC 514-521: knowledge of mysteries of Christ, communion in his mysteries
- CCC 238-242: the Father is revealed by the Son
- CCC 989-990: the resurrection of the body
Knowledge of mysteries of Christ, communion in his mysteries
I. CHRIST’S WHOLE LIFE IS MYSTERY
514 Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of his public life is not recounted.172 What is written in the Gospels was set down there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”173
515 The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith174 and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of his mystery in all his earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus’ life was a sign of his mystery.175 His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”176 His humanity appeared as “sacrament”, that is, the sign and instrument, of his divinity and of the salvation he brings: what was visible in his earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship and redemptive mission.
Characteristics common to Jesus’ mysteries
516 Christ’s whole earthly life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”, and the Father can say: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”177 Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father’s will, even the least characteristics of his mysteries manifest “God’s love. . . among us”.178
517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross,179 but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:
– already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;180
– in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;181
– in his word which purifies its hearers;182
– in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;183
– and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.184
518 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of recapitulation. All Jesus did, said and suffered had for its aim restoring fallen man to his original vocation:
- When Christ became incarnate and was made man, he recapitulated in himself the long history of mankind and procured for us a “short cut” to salvation, so that what we had lost in Adam, that is, being in the image and likeness of God, we might recover in Christ Jesus.185 For this reason Christ experienced all the stages of life, thereby giving communion with God to all men.186
Our communion in the mysteries of Jesus
519 All Christ’s riches “are for every individual and are everybody’s property.”187 Christ did not live his life for himself but for us, from his Incarnation “for us men and for our salvation” to his death “for our sins” and Resurrection “for our justification”.188 He is still “our advocate with the Father”, who “always lives to make intercession” for us.189 He remains ever “in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him all that he lived and suffered for us.”190
520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,191 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.192
521 Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us. “By his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man.”193 We are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model:
- We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church. . . For it is the plan of the Son of God to make us and the whole Church partake in his mysteries and to extend them to and continue them in us and in his whole Church. This is his plan for fulfilling his mysteries in us.194
The Father is revealed by the Son
The baptism of Jesus
238 Many religions invoke God as “Father”. The deity is often considered the “father of gods and of men”. In Israel, God is called “Father” inasmuch as he is Creator of the world.59 Even more, God is Father because of the covenant and the gift of the law to Israel, “his first-born son”.60 God is also called the Father of the king of Israel. Most especially he is “the Father of the poor”, of the orphaned and the widowed, who are under his loving protection.61
239 By calling God “Father”, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood,62 which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard:63 no one is father as God is Father.
240 Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”64
241 For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”; as “the image of the invisible God”; as the “radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature”.65
242 Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is “consubstantial” with the Father, that is, one only God with him.66 The second ecumenical council, held at Constantinople in 381, kept this expression in its formulation of the Nicene Creed and confessed “the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father”.67
The resurrection of the body
989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.534 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:
- If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.535
990 The term “flesh” refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality.536 The “resurrection of the flesh” (the literal formulation of the Apostles’ Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our “mortal body” will come to life again.537