Zechariah 9: 9-10 + Psalm 145 + 1 Romans 8:9, 11-13 + Matthew 11: 25-30
July 9, 2023 at Saint William and Saint Peter Churches in Naples, FL
The most powerful man ever to walk on this earth was not macho, but he had the power of Almighty God. Yet, he is often described as a hopeless idealist thinking and teaching about nonviolence and forgiveness. These things are not for people who live in the real world. Here competition, power, and strength are what get you ahead and help you survive. Being number one is all that matters, and how you get there or how you win is irrelevant. Or is it?
These words of Jesus, even in his time, must have come as a shock to his disciples who were ambitious and competitive for the first place in line. Imagine what they must have thought when he stopped to bless children and their mothers saying that they were the models of who would enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What happened to being smart, clever, having connections, knowing the right people and saying the right things? What he is describing here is the most effective way to live a full and successful life.
How intelligent and sincere people have managed to get this wrong is probably a question for psychologists or historians to sort out, but it might have something to do with our culture and sometimes even our religion. The culture in which we struggle to live with joy and in peace is entirely based upon consuming, buying, and owning things. It’s like a religion based upon fear and damnation promising happiness to people they have taught to be unhappy.
Our lives get no meaning from wealth or status. Their meaning comes from relationships with one another and with God. That’s called, “Life in the Spirit.” What Jesus and our faith offer us is an easy yoke and a light burden. It is easy because we don’t have to be self-sufficient. God has given us one another, and embracing our need for one another keeps us all tender and kind. Best of all, it keeps us meek and humble.
At the time of Jesus, meekness was used to describe a slave or an ox. It was someone who had strength, but it was used to endure all things with an even temper, someone who knew they were dependent on another, and tender in spirit. It’s not macho, but it’s powerful. It works again and again to bring lasting peace. It has the power to restore friendship broken by ambition, selfishness, and greed. The meek are always open, ready to learn something new never pretending they are brilliant. You sometimes hear them say things like, “I didn’t know that” or “Thank you”, and sometimes, “Help me.” There is nothing idealistic about that. It’s real. It’s honest, and it’s the truth, the Gospel Truth.