July 7, 2017

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe first biblical reading for this weekend’s Mass is from the Book of Zechariah.

Zechariah was of the priestly caste and was born in Babylon. His birth occurred during the time when many Jews were in forced exile in the Babylonian capital. He went to the Holy Land with his grandfather when the exile was ended. It might be assumed that he was either a youth or a young adult when he made this trip, as few grandparents at the time lived long enough to see their grandchildren reach middle age.

Finally in the Holy Land, he devoted himself to the care and study of the Scriptures. He obviously saw himself and was regarded by others as a prophet.

He met a violent death, being murdered apparently within the precincts of the temple itself.

Zechariah would likely have seen and experienced in himself the enthusiasm of the people as they quit the despised Babylon and began their journey home.

The reading for this weekend captures this great joy and enthusiasm. All wrongs were to be righted. To lead the people into a new day of peace and prosperity, God will send a messiah who will enter the holy city of Jerusalem with great humility, seated on a donkey.

This image was to be a part of the event of Palm Sunday, actually to occur many centuries later when Jesus entered Jerusalem.

St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans provides the second reading. In this selection, Paul repeats the theme so often given in his writings. Christians not only follow Christ, or join Christ in their own walks through life, but the Lord becomes part of them. They become part of Jesus. Christian discipleship forges this strong a bond.

The last reading is from St. Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus continually encountered people well educated in the Scriptures who often opposed the Lord. Yet, in the minds of many at the time, they were the wisest and most learned in the society.

Understandably, Jesus had to insist that the wisest in popular consensus were not the wisest after all. By contrast, the Lord says that humble and innocent children often can better see the most profound of truths.

Jesus, however, does not abandon people to drown in the sea of their own pride and ignorance. Rather, the Lord calls them. He reaches to them. Confronting all the obstacles of life is not easy, but it is a burden lightened by the fact that support comes from Jesus, the Son of God.

Reflection

The Gospel this weekend presents facts indispensable to Christian doctrine and to achieving Christian holiness. None of us, in the last analysis, understands all things. Original sin, in the traditional phrasing, has darkened our intellects. We all look at a world with blurred vision, out of focus. Everything is distorted and unclear. We are myopic.

In this fog, we are afraid. Uncertain, nervous, we think only of ourselves. In our inadequacy, even though not identified, we exaggerate ourselves. We make ourselves greater than we are.

We deceive ourselves. We trick ourselves into thinking that we can find the way on our own. We cannot. Only God can show the way.

Mercifully, happily for us, God shows us the way in Jesus. Jesus not only leads us, but also gives us divine life itself. As true believers, we live in Jesus, and the Lord lives in us.

The key to attaining this relationship is our humility, our trust in God.

We do not have to yearn for God without relief. God awaits our call. He loves us with an everlasting, perfect love. He will come to us. Thus, with Zechariah, we can rejoice that the Lord comes to us. †

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