The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 5, 2020
"We Proclaim Relationship!"
Song of Solomon 2: 8-13
Psalm 45: 7-15
Romans 7: 21-8: 1
Matthew 11: 16-19; 25-30
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
In our world today people are heavily laden - carrying heavy loads. There is struggle, stress, pain and they are burned out because of what they face. Hear Jesus offering this invitation, “Come to Me, you who are tired, weary and heavily laden. I can walk with you. We can walk together. You don’t have to be alone and journey alone.”
Some people really don’t respond or react to such invitations. God is eager to open His arms to accept us so that we can be reconciled to Him. The saddest thing that can happen is God speaking, offering His invitation for life for us through circumstances, situations and events, and they don’t move us. We don’t respond. Our help only comes from the Lord. If we reject His help, we will get nowhere and we continue to be tired and weary.
God has revealed these mysteries to infants, to babes, to the humble and not to the wise. This was said sarcastically to refer to the wise that are insistent of their ways, those who are hardened, and those who are intransigent and are stubborn and rebellious. Psalm 78 warns us against this. “Do not be stubborn like our fathers before, a stubborn and rebellious generation.” The result is not just a lack of peace, but eventually leading to destruction.
Some people sometimes experience lower back pain, like a muscle spasm, which is a result of abnormally sustained contraction of the muscles. The muscles are tensed and the longer the contraction, the harder for it to heal. The cure for muscle tension is relaxation. We need to let go, stretch, relax, and breathe.
On a spiritual parallelism, we need to be teachable. Sometimes, we are so set in our ways that we are not open to the leading of God that makes us more and more insensitive to His voice. Scriptures says that the sheep hear His voice. We need to be teachable and we need to admit that we don’t know it all. We need to trust God. We need to let go of our ways and learn from Jesus, and come to Him and find rest for our souls.
The famous line of Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “God thoughts are higher than our thoughts; God’s ways are higher than our ways.” Proverbs 3:5 says that we need to trust in Lord with all our heart, and not lean on our own understanding.
As an example, God teaches us to be merciful and to forgive. Sometimes, stubbornness get in our way and we say, “God doesn’t know how much they offended me,” but God knows everything. God knows the number of our hairs. He accomplishes that which concerns us, and He knows that sometimes, our spiritual muscles are tensed. They contract and it imprisons us. We get trapped into bondage and slavery because we do not know how to let go and find rest from our souls as we learn from God.
Someone said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting their enemy to die. Renew our minds! Learn from God. Learn to forgive seventy times seven. Forgive unceasingly because this is how Christ treats us. St. Paul said in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is no more condemnation.” God has forgiven all of us. Let go of our yoke, our way, and take His for it is easier and we will find peace and rest for our souls.
Jesus said, “His yoke is easy and His burden is light.” It doesn’t mean that He has a lower standard for us for us. It doesn’t mean that He will lighten our yoke. Rest doesn’t mean no work. What it means is that we will be able to avail of His ability when we walk with Him. We will be empowered. We will receive power as the Holy Spirit has come upon us when we learn to walk with Him. We will still face challenges; we still have responsibilities; we have a load to carry. This doesn’t change. What will change is that we will have the power and the ability because we walk with God.
In Genesis, Adam was created to work, to be productive – to cultivate and to keep. Before curse, Adam did his work productively and without stress. When the curse came, he worked and tilled the ground by the sweat of his brow. This signifies now that his work will be a burden not joyful. In Christ, it will be reversed and peace can we be restored. We can do our work and face life and fulfill our responsibilities in peace and with us being productive. We can overcome curse and eliminate fear, anxiety, turmoil, and lack of peace, which are not from God. They weigh us down; they weary us; they make us age fast, resulting to health problems. This is not what God intended for us.
Rest is for the soul, for the inner man, which then energizes our physical body. I am not a doctor or a scientist but I believe that if our soul is at rest and at peace, it does something physiologically inside us. Learn us to walk in ancient paths, as Jeremiah 6:16 says, where the good way is because there, the soul will find rest. Easy and rest doesn’t mean that there will be no tribulations like pandemic, lockdowns, traffic or conflict. There will be Divine power as it says in Acts 1:8.
St. Polycarp served God all his life. When he was eighty years plus, he was arrested by the Roman government. Frail and old aged, he was treated cruelly and manhandled. He was to be burned at the stake. He told the soldiers, “You don’t have to put fire on me. Burn me and I will not die. I will not betray my God whom I have served several decades and Who has been faithful to me.” How did this 80 plus man have this courage? By walking with Jesus; by taking His yoke.
As a Bishop, I have survived unthinkable and unimaginable things, and the only way that makes sense to me that I overcame them is because I had Divine power and intervention from God, one hundred percent God’s grace. Sometimes, we don’t understand how we get through things and overcome them. The only valid explanation is that God is in the midst of our situations. Psalm 45:10 says that our part is to listen, to give attention and to incline our ear, and to walk in the Spirit.
The worst thing that we can do is to be unresponsive – to not listen and to not do anything. Jesus wants to help us and to deliver us, to give us life, to give us peace and to give us rest from our anxiety and our weakness. Listen, give attention, incline our ear, and find rest for our souls. Peace, abundance and the fullness of life are God’s will for us, and walking in them is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.