09 July 201714 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
14 Ordinary Time
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Cycle- Matthew 11:25-30

The abbot is impressed by the spiritual progress of the monk. He lets him live on his own in a riverbank hut. Each night the boy-monk puts out his religious habit to dry. It is his only possession. One morning he is dismayed to find it has been torn by rats. He begs for a second habit from the villagers.

When the rats destroy that one, he gets a cat. But now he has to beg not only for food for himself but also milk for the cat. To get around that he buys a cow. Then he has to seek for grain. He concludes, "It will be easier to work the land around my hut." That leaves him no leisure to pray. He hires workers. Checking on them is heavy work. He marries a wife to do the job. Soon he is the wealthiest person in the village.

Years later the abbot comes back to find a mansion where the hut had stood. Sharply he asks, "What is the meaning of this?" The unhappy monk replies, "Abbot, you will not believe this, but there was no other way to protect my religious habit from the rats."

Jesus has no tolerance with the people who put monkeys on our backs. He is more annoyed when we ourselves glue them there.

Do we really need all the possessions in our homes? One man has seven bathrooms in his house, but there are only three people in his family. The same family has four cars but only two drivers. As clever as we might be, we can only drive one car at a time.

We should make our own the song "I Don't Want What I Don't Have." Do we need to smoke so much or eat so greedily or drink so often or, worst of all, all three together at the same time? Why do we heed people who impose on us the obligation of being with it - whatever "it" means?

Some have calendar books overflowing with obligations. Others work overtime as though there will be no tomorrow. Yet, no person ever regretted on his deathbed that he didn't spend more time at the office. (Anna Quindlen) Bob Hope said he first realized he had to take his family on the road with him when he said to his 5 year old, "Bye, Tony" and the child chirped, "Bye, Bob."

St Paul in Romans (8:13) advises us to shake these burdens off our backs and become free. Obviously Paul wants us to have leisure time to become more interesting Christians.

"The quickest way to do many things," says the proverb, "is to do one thing at a time."

There is more to life than increasing its speed. (Gandhi)

Shrinks call this problem "hurry sickness."

Most of us have studied the Gospels and concluded they are difficult and so we turn to religion. We conclude that belonging to a religion is much easier than being religious and less demanding than serving Christ. If I give religion an hour on Sunday, we say, and put a ten in the basket, I can get Christ off my back. The danger is not that our aim is high and we miss it. It is too low and we reach it. (Unknown)

Yet, is the Gospel that difficult? Matthew today has Christ on record saying, "Father, what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to kids."

The mayor ran into Christ in the street. He asked, "Is there anyone here who will be saved?" Jesus looked about and said, "No one but that couple." The mayor asked the couple what they did. They replied, "We are merrymakers. When we see people depressed, we cheer them up. When we see them quarreling, we try to make peace among them." (William Barclay) So people who do simple things will reach the kingdom. Others will be locked out.

If you carry your childhood with you, you never grow old. (Abraham Sutzkever)

Many of us try to play the Christian but after a few setbacks give up the struggle and become our usual dull selves. Christ has considered that possibility. Tantalizingly He says today, "Come to me, all you who are burned-out and find life tough and I will give you R & R." This is a clear invitation to hang out and waste time with God. Remember, though, He promised us a safe landing, not smooth sailing. (Unknown)

Help me, dear God, to stop believing I'm in charge and you are but my third assistant coach. (Unknown)

"Slow me down, Jesus."
Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
14 Ordinary Time
Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time: The Strong One

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus calls us to come to Him and then tells us that He is "Meek and humble of heart". What does that mean, meek and humble of heart? How can we understand this? I was turning this over in my mind when an image came to me that I see every Sunday and that you most probably witness every day. Let me set it up this way: We are blessed to have many families in our parish. They take attending Church together seriously and as a family. I love seeing them come in and getting their tribe in line. The largest member of the family is most often the father. Some of our fathers are very big men. I love it when I see them carrying their baby into the church. I really have a smile when I see a huge man carrying his one or two year old little girl. She might be tiny, and he may be large, but she has taken control of her Dad. And he is quite happy about it. As one of our new father's said, "I have become my little girl's jungle gym. I lie on the floor, and she climbs all over me. She slobbers on me, or worse, but I love it.â?? I am sure that the toughest man in our parish is a pussycat when it comes to his baby girl. He will be fierce when it comes to protecting his daughter, but for her, he is meek. He is also humble of heart. None of our fathers, or mothers for that matter, think that they are too lofty, too important to care for their children. From changing diapers to drying tears, good parents cannot be arrogant. Their love for their children won't let them be anything other than humble of heart.

And Jesus said, "Come to me, I meek and humble of heart". He loves us like a good parents loves His child. Only more so, infinitely more so.

There are many times that we feel overwhelmed by the world, our responsibilities, even our efforts to grow in the most important relationships of our lives, for many of you, your marriages, for me, my relationship to my people, for all of us, our relationship to God. We watch the news, listen to commentaries and witness all we hold dear being mocked. We read how our children and Teens are being exploited by drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. We see images of turmoil in the world, ISIS in Iraq, Russians in the Ukraine, and terrorism everywhere. We witness all this and feel that the world is too much for us. "Come to me, the Lord says, "I am meek and humble of heart. I know how you feel. You think the world is falling to pieces and you fear for your family. Entrust them to me, entrust yourself to me. I will care for you. I will care for your family. I am God, but I have not distanced myself from you. I love you too much to do that. I am that big man, and you are my little child. Come to me.

Many respond, "But how can I provide all that my family needs. Jesus answers, "I am all that they need, everything else will fall into place.

And we are called to give him our relationships. Relationships take a lot of hard work. Marriages take a lot of hard work as husbands and wives continually sacrifice their own wants, even their own points of view, for the sake of those whom they love so much. Relationships with people outside of our family take work. It takes humility to allow other people to be themselves, not to be what we think they should be. Our relationship to God takes the greatest amount of work in our lives. Every day is another chance to let Him enter deeper into our lives. But this means denying ourselves. It means setting more and more time for Him. It means sacrifice when what we really want to do is pull a Jonah and go Southwest when God tells us to go Northeast. Sometimes we come before the Lord and say, "I can't seem to get along with anyone, beginning with myself, and including you. And Jesus says, "I've got you, I'll teach you how to love. Just let me hold you, and care for you. I want to help you. Come to me, I am meek and humble of heart."

And the words of our second reading from Romans 8 encourages us. We are not in the flesh. We are in the Spirit. The Spirit of God dwells in us. The very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead gives us life. We need to put our trust in God. He is our hope, our hope not just for the future, but our hope for the present. Jesus tells us to pick up our crosses and follow Him, follow Him to Calvary living His sacrificial love, and follow Him to the joy of eternal union with God.

And just as the strong father, carries his little baby into Church, our Lord carries us into the Father's eternal Temple, into heaven. His actions are motivated by love; his love for us, and his love for His Father who told Him to bring us to 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.

The One who carries us is strong, stronger than our fears, stronger than our struggles, stronger even than that man who used to carry us into Church.

Infinitely stronger.
Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
14 Ordinary Time
Spiritual Warfare Week 3: The Yoke of Jesus
(July 9, 2017)
Message: No matter how busy we are Jesus wants us to give first priority to time with him.

Last Sunday we saw the huge difference between putting Jesus first and putting him second. Place Jesus first and you gain all; put him second and you lose all. That's why he says "whoever loves father or mother - son or daughter - more than me is not worthy of me."

This Sunday we see something surprising. Once we put Jesus first, he gives us rest: "Take my yoke upon you...and I will give you rest."

How is this possible? By definition a yoke sounds burdensome. Well, it turns out that sometimes farm animals will be unequally yoked. For training purposes a farmer might yoke a bullock with an ox. The ox pulls the entire load while the bullock walks next to him. So it is with us and Jesus. "My yoke," he says, "is easy and my burden light."

I'd like to illustrate this with something from the new rite of matrimony. It has a lovely option. After the couple pronounces their vows and exchanges rings, they can have a cord or lazo placed over their shoulders. It often has the form of a double rosary. The couple kneels and the sponsors place one rosary loop over the bride and the other over the groom. Between them is the cross. The lazo represents how holy matrimony joins them to each other and to Jesus.

Marriage can seem scary - like a heavy burden - but when a couple joins themselves to Jesus, the burden becomes light. Studies have shown that if a couple goes to Mass together - and prays together, even something simple like joining hands for an Our Father or saying grace before meals - if they do that, they have a much higher rate of perseverance in marriage. "Take my yoke upon you," says Jesus. "My yoke is easy and my burden light."

I'd like to now say something about the promise Jesus gives to those who accept his yoke. He says he will not only lift our burden but will give us rest. That's a pretty good promise.

Most of us long for rest. Multiple demands fill our lives. For sure we have labor saving devices. I mean, who would go back to a typewriter or throw out their microwave? In spite of more efficient devices our lives have become complicated in other ways. People seem busier, more stressed out than ever.

I have no solution to the modern dilemma of exaggerated busyness. Jesus does though. He says, "I will give you rest." Of course Jesus and his disciples had times of extreme activity - teaching, healing, driving out demons, organizing, training. Then all of a sudden he would say, "Come apart and rest a while." Jesus engaged in hours of prayer and he tells us to follow his example, "Could you not watch one hour with me?"

I meet monthly with a small group of priests for prayer and review of life. They are all younger than me and I have to admit they work harder than me. They have parishes with schools and they of them have major archdiocesan responsibilities. Yet when we meet we hold each other accountable to a daily Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, rosary, Liturgy of Hours, Scripture reading - and regular exercise. We sometimes fall down but we help each other keep on track.

No matter how busy we are Jesus wants us to give first priority to time with him. Time with Jesus gives real rest and renewal. People seek relief in alcohol, drugs, gambling, hours of TV & Internet, illicit "adventures" - you name your poison. These things may give momentary rest. They then lead to what the French call ennui - that feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety. Only Jesus gives real rest.

We are in a spiritual war, but like every war, it doesn't involve constant battle. As a good general Jesus wants us to have time to rest and retool. Next week we will see that however busy we might be, however stressed out, we have good reason to relax.

Today we are grateful for Jesus' wonderful invitation: "Take my yoke upon you...and you will find rest...my yoke is easy and my burden light."" Amen.
Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe,Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
14 Ordinary Time
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Classic
Matthew 11: 25-30

Gospel Summary

This Sunday's gospel is brief but exceedingly rich in meaning. It has two distinct, though related, parts. In the first, Jesus expresses profound gratitude to the Father, source of all being and goodness, because he has freely chosen to take note of the little ones. He has done so by giving them a share in his divine wisdom, while withholding it from the "wise and learne". This certainly does not mean that God despises learning but rather that the learned are too often tempted to pride, and thus closed to God's gift.

When Jesus says that "these things" are revealed only to the humble and unassuming, he is referring to the revelation that he received from the Father and now offers to all of us. This revelation is nothing less than a message about the real meaning and purpose of our lives. And since it concerns how we love and serve and forgive, it is hidden from those who want to control life by means of their human knowledge, rather than to subordinate that knowledge to the higher wisdom of love and generosity. It is only in this way that one can come to know Jesus as the one who reveals the wisdom and the gift of the Father.

In the second segment, Jesus reminds us that accepting his wisdom of loving service will indeed mean submitting to the yoke of discipline and sacrifice. But it will be a sweet yoke, first of all because we bear it with Jesus, and then because it is a burden that has meaning since it is carried with love.

Life Implications
Those who devote their lives to scholarship have often taken a dim view of religion and in many cases have rejected faith altogether. They see religion as an enemy of real learning and useful only for those who have not yet been "liberated" by knowledge. Too often the children of deeply religious parents, when sent to secular universities, end up with no faith at all. Today's gospel speaks directly to this issue. Jesus is not condemning human learning, even at the highest level, but he is saying that human wisdom will always be trumped in the long run by divine wisdom.

This is not a defeat for human wisdom because it was never meant to have the last word.

Jesus heard this "last word" from his Father, creator of all the things that scholars study. He has passed it on to us, by word and by deed, and it tells us that we are called to freedom and then to loving service. Human learning can co-exist quite easily with this wisdom; in fact, it will be greatly enhanced by discovering how much is beyond its comprehension, for this too is an important part of learning. For that reason, all colleges and universities should include a strong religious element in their curriculum. And it is for that reason also that Catholic institutions of higher learning should be supported because it is there that the claims of divine wisdom can be discussed at the graduate level and without prejudice. And so the "little ones" in today's gospel are not those who are ignorant, much less anti-intellectual. Rather, they are those who are learned enough to know that human beings are not divine and therefore need to be open to the gift of God's wisdom. This liberation from a false ideal of knowledge without limits will help all of us to lighten our yoke when life turns mysterious and the gift of God is all that really matters.
Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Modern
Gospel: Matthew 11: 25-30

The Gospel passage this week comes at an end of a chapter in which Jesus is facing increased opposition from the people of Israel. He reproaches the various towns in which he had preached, ministered, and performed miracles, that resulted with little conversion or repentance of the people there. Jesus turns his disappointment and anger into prayer. This is a lesson for all of us in what to do with the difficult situations that trouble us.

Jesus turns to his Father with praise and thanksgiving, acknowledging his Father and the importance of trusting in the will of the Father. Very often we might act impulsively to difficult situations without taking the time to turning over the Father in prayer for guidance. This could include calling upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially Wisdom and Understanding needed in our particular situation. The lesson for us is to follow this example of Jesus by turning to the Father and surrendering to his will.

Jesus teaches us not to keep the Father's presence to ourselves. The unity of Jesus with the Father is a perfect unity; "No one knows the Father except the Son.." While our unity is not perfect, it is a unity that strengthens and consoles us. Jesus moves from praise and thanksgiving to his father to the invitation to us. He calls us to bring all that is wearing us down to him and he will help us. He uses the image of a yoke that calls us to picture two farm animals with the wooden yoke across their necks so that together they can pull a heavy load. We are to picture ourselves and Jesus with a yoke connecting us so that we can carry the burdens of life, not alone, but with Jesus. Jesus does this for us out of meekness and humility, so that we might find rest. How beautiful it is when we are that connected, in unity with the Lord, so as to experience that rest! It's a rest that calms us, renews us, and energizes us.

Finally, the invitation to come to Jesus with our burdens is not only for us, it is for all. On our part we can extend this invitation to others through prayer and words. In this Gospel we learn that it is the Father's will that has hidden the teachings of Jesus from the wise and clever, yet revealed them to the childlike. The religious leaders who were considered the ones with knowledge, were the ones who rejected Jesus. Meanwhile it is the fishermen, the tax collectors and sinners who were receiving Jesus and turning to him. In order to accept God's word, one must be open to it and receive it with humility and a type of innocence found in a child. One might not expect to find this innocence in the tax collectors and sinners, but the way that they responded to Jesus, repented and followed him is proof that what we sometimes assume about the spiritual life a person can be wrong. We don't know why someone is living a life that we might see as sinful, and we also don't know what is happening in their soul. Sometimes there is a receptivity to the Lord that we don't see, while in fact in the midst of all the things they seem to be doing wrong, there is a childlike faith that when touched by God's presence turns them to him. This opens within us the ability to see the work of God in ways we do not expect to. With this comes a peace and calmness in the midst of frustrations and even anger.

Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
14 Ordinary Time
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