Saturday, July 8, 2023

Gentle of Heart will inherit the earth


Gentle of Heart will inherit the earth 

This commentary is based on the readings for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordanry Time, which are  Zechariah 9.9-10; Ps. 145 (R,.1b) Romans 8.9, 11-13; Matthew 11. 25-30

 The gospel is interesting. It is one perfectly suited for a July weekend when many are looking forward to a vacation. Weary and burdened with work, life challenges and all those things we try to manage, we are ready to chill out and rest.

And this is how Jesus is feeling. You see, the gospel for today is more than an invitation to come and rest with him, but a prayer, beginning with Jesus expressing thanks to his Father, and then an expression of frustration that his wisdom is hidden from wise and intelligent. Frustrated because he can’t understand, after almost three years of public ministry, where he taught, healed, and ministered, they still don’t get it.

Looking ahead, he likely thinks, at the next Passover, when I ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, they will believe I am fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah, that I have come to rule from sea to sea, as a king with dominion overall.

In their eagerness for a king with worldly power  they quickly forget their own tradition, which believes that the way a king comes into a city, indicates his purpose and how he will rule. If a king rides in on a stallion, he is signalling he is coming with military might and will rule with an iron hand. If he comes on a donkey, he is signalling he has come in peace, gentle and humble in heart, with the intention to relieve the burdens of all those under his dominion.

And so, Jesus ends his prayer, saying quit trying to understand my kingdom from a worldly perspective, where power and might are the tools needed to rule, rather than gentleness and peace.   

For this reason, Jesus includes in his prayer of thanksgiving, an expression of gratitude that God his Father in Heaven has handed everything over to him.

Now the wise and intelligent will believe this means Jesus is all powerful, but will miss the obvious, Jesus is also suggesting his divine  power is exercised in the same way God his Father manifests his power.

For those who take the time to consider how they have experienced God’s power in their lives, we will realize God never enters into our lives overwhelming us with his divine power, majesty, and glory. Instead, God comes in gentleness, deliberately setting aside all pretensions of power.

A perfect  image of God’s gentleness can be found simply by looking into the heavens. The sun in the sky is our great blessing precisely because it maintains its life-giving distance. We know it. We feel it, we enjoy it, but we are never overwhelmed by it.

In this prayer Jesus is saying, I have not come into the world to overwhelm you with power and might, but rather reveal to you a better way.

The better way, Jesus is saying, take on my yoke and learn from me, for I am  gentle and humble of heart.

At first glance, we may believe accepting Jesus’ yoke implies we are surrendering. Giving up. There is nothing we can do.

But the gentleness of Christ is not surrender. It is a strength that does not need to scream. Gentleness of Christ  is not becoming a doormat.  It is a sureness of presence that spurns aggression.

Gentleness of Jesus is of God. Like the sun in the sky, securely settled into itself, it shines in sure love upon the good and the wicked.

So this July weekend as we look for relief from the burdens we carry, weary from managing our various life-situations, Jesus is saying, come to me and find true rest, true power for the gentle of heart will inherit the earth.

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