FIRST READING Zechariah 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.
SECOND READING Romans 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.
GOSPEL Matthew 11:25-30
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.”
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Such wonderful words from our Lord can only be understood if we are already living in the mystery of His salvation. If we are not living that mystery, then we will only get upset with God when we don’t get what we want in life.
The first reading today is from the Prophet Zechariah. In today’s passage we have the words which the New Testament saw fulfilled on Palm Sunday: “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.” Even the Prophets recognized that the Savior to come would not be necessarily a political power or a person who exercised authority in the way to which people were accustomed. Instead, the Savior could come in humility, could be ugly, could be a person no one saw as special, etc.
The same is true for us today. So often we don’t want to listen to the words given us in Scripture, we don’t want to accept the teachings which have been handed down to us and we don’t really believe that God has reached into our world and become one of us. We really don’t want a God but prefer ourselves to be God in all.
The second reading comes from the Letter to the Romans. Here we listen to these words: “if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” How difficult to put to death the deeds of the body! Our bodies want their own pleasure and our whole spiritual discipline insists that only an asceticism based in Jesus Christ will be able to subdue the desires of the body. Yet in our modern culture, the body is almost worshipped and certain no one really believes that the body should be denied any pleasure that it can have—as long as it harms no one else. This is our modern way of thinking and it is completely against the teachings of the Old and New Testament.
So we come to the Gospel today. In the Gospel of Matthew we find today this saying: “you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.” As we grow in our faith and our commitment to the Lord Jesus, we know that fewer and fewer people will understand us. Following Jesus is truly counter cultural today and the values of Jesus are seen as anti-human.
Jesus condemns no one. On the other hand, Jesus invites us to live in certain ways and presumes that we understand that only certain ways of living bring true life to us. When Jesus promises us rest in Him, He does not promise us a long life, lots of riches, all kinds of pleasures, etc. Instead, Jesus is clear that the way to a full and complete life is through the cross. His yoke is easy and His burden is light only if we are willing to walk with him through suffering and death to life.
The Gospel is not always an acceptable way to live. Yet, once we embrace Jesus and begin to walk with Him, we do find that the cross is easy to bear because He is with us. Being yoked to Him makes all things possible.