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Homily, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Insights on how to grow spiritually during hardship

14th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR A -- Homily by Msgr. Joseph K. Ntuwa

Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9.11-13; Matthew 11:25-30

There are times when we have felt overburdened by what life throws at us. This may be due to personal or family issues and problems.  The COVID-19 Shutdown has certainly stretched us to the limits. For instance, we never had the opportunity to physically celebrate Holy Week together as a faith community; you now need to make reservations for masses so that we are within the required capacity of occupancy. The scriptures this Sunday give us some insights on how to grow in spiritual stature in times of hardships. 

Zechariah in today’s first reading tells a broken, exiled, and captive people that the Lord God is still in charge. However, God is not like the warrior kings who overpower and exploit everyone else. Our God is a king of peace who is not interested in or dependent upon the instruments of warfare. Our God will conquer evil and the enemy with kindness, patience and non-violence. And in the Gospel, Jesus offers us a comforting invitation when we feel overwhelmed; “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”  

Those who have been to a desert know that living conditions in such barren landscape are hostile for plants and animal life. One of the most welcome sights in a desert is an oasis- a place where the water table is close to the surface. In the ancient world, it was a major stop on any trade route where people could pause, refresh themselves, and replenish their water supply. We all need an oasis of one kind or another to soothe our physical weariness. Today, we live in world where people are becoming increasingly weary in soul. There is so much stimulation, so many varying opinions on any issue that the mind becomes numb. The processing of so much information can exhaust and overwhelm us. We need a spiritual oasis to which we can repair. For us Christians, that oasis is prayer.

Prayer is the place where we can refresh ourselves with the Word of God and try to see life around us through the perspective of God’s sight; prayer is the place where we can try to put the events of our life- good and bad, into perspective. So often, we identify prayer with “saying prayers”. We tend to accumulate extensive devotions, a massive menu of prayers to be recited and spiritual practices to be observed that can weary us. The extensive routine of prayers can easily become not a time of refreshment and peace but a draining regimen that we can’t wait to complete.  We might end up not only avoiding but disliking prayer. St Francis de Sales warns us that in our prayer life, we must practice the counsels that are suited to our state in life; we should abide with those prayers and methods of prayer that bring our soul peace.  If our prayer life is to be a true spiritual oasis, it should be a place where we can draw strength from Christ’s grace, a source of those restful waters we all need.

When St Paul writes to the Romans in today’s second reading about flesh and spirit, he makes it quite clear that our life gets no meaning from just material values but rather from our relationships with one another and with God. Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden light. The yoke is easy because we don’t have to be self-sufficient, but we must rely on God. Life in the Spirit produces that kind of meekness and humility. Without an oasis, the traveler in the desert was subject to weariness in body and soul, despair and even death. We have been given the gift of a spiritual oasis in our relationship with Christ and the gift of grace.

Consider creating an oasis of prayer in your life. It may be the traditional Adoration or time before the Blessed Sacrament, daily mass in addition to Sunday obligation or you may find meditative scriptural reading as a source of daily refreshment. Whatever form your oasis may take, we all need a place of refreshment for the soul.

 

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