14th Sunday Of Ordinary Time- Year A.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“God Reveals Himself To The Poor And Humble.”
In the first reading we find the words of the prophet announcing the Messiah who is ‘poor and humble’. These appear to be the words uttered to describe Jesus.
The second reading can also be linked to this theme because it speaks of the Spirit, the holy law of the Christian. The Spirit can only be received by the poor, by those who are “humble in heart”.
The Gospel shows Jesus “gentle and humble”, that is, on the side of the poor and the oppressed. He rejoices because it is to them that the Father has revealed his message of salvation.
Guide to ‘Live’ the Sunday Liturgy:
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
If at all possible, share this Bible Reflection time with a family member, a friend or someone you wish to bring to Christ. Jesus said in Mt. 18:20 – “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests, bishops and Catholic theologians who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a ‘Prayer’ are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. With faith and perseverance, we will start to put into practice the Lord’s teachings; begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love, God’s will, and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator. Meditations and Prayer on the Reflections should be done daily – first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.
It may be necessary to pray and repeat the study of the Bible Readings and Commentaries more than once, or even on a daily basis, if you feel that you have not yet grasped the Lord’s special message for you.
“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.
In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.
The book of Zechariah seems to be divided into at least two sections. The earlier section (Ch. 1-8) is from about 520 B.C. soon after the return of the exiles, when the Temple was being rebuilt. The latter section (Ch. 9ff.) seems to have been proclaimed some two hundred years later, during the last decades of the 4th century B.C. It deals with the coming of the Messiah and with final judgment. Our brief Sunday reading is from the latter part of the prophetic book. The two verses describe the coming of the kingly Messiah.
When the prophet pronounced the words we read today, Israel was no longer an independent country, nor was it raging war on anybody. It was a country colonized, exploited and oppressed by foreign powers. Israel is invited by the prophet to rejoice heart and soul, to shout with gladness. Why? Because, the prophet says, the end of suffering is in sight; the Messiah is about to appear. He will be a just and victorious king. In this prophetic oracle, Zechariah dreams of the day when the ‘warrior’s bow is banished, the last blow of the sword inflicted, the echoes of war dying away with sombre finality’. The ‘king’ who comes is not riding on a chariot, or even seated on a horse, the preferred transport of the warrior. He comes in peace, on an animal of peacetime. He comes in humility, yet his rule extends to all the earth. His arrival is greeted with shouts of joy and great relief. If we dare to dream of such a day, we invite this kingdom to come.
The prophet Zechariah is not the first one to announce the coming of a great king, of a son of David, of a liberator for his people in and during periods of great difficulty. Who can trust a king so humble? How can he be victorious? In the second part of the reading (v.10) we are told what he will do on his arrival in Jerusalem: he will remove from the city every sign of military power and force, he will destroy every instrument of war and all other means of violence. But, in spite of his renouncing military power, he will be victorious and will have an immense success: his empire will stretch from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, from the River Euphrates to the ends of Palestine, that is, all over the world, since the geography of the time thought that these were the world’s boundaries.
The prophecy by Zechariah is the opposite of the popular idea of what a king should be; he is not one who will be served, he is the one who will focus his attention to the needs of others. The helpless and the defenceless are not dominated by him; he put himself at the service of all. His strength is what most people will consider weakness. So peaceful will his kingship be that warhorses will be unnecessary. This humble king would ride on a donkey.
This is a strong and clear messianic pronouncement, one that found resonance and fulfilment in the life and teaching of Jesus. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy literally when he triumphantly entered into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday (Mt 21:5). This act that showed that he is the expected king, the ‘One’ who brings peace and who will conquer human hearts with his mercy, compassion and love to all. All four evangelists take pains to point out that Jesus insisted that a donkey be provided for his use on that occasion. It was as if he wanted everybody to be clear about what was happening here: The prophesy of Zechariah was being fulfilled, the ‘King of Peace’ was taking possession of his realm.
Though lowly and humble, Jesus gained the greatest of all victories: the victory over evil.
Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14.
The Psalm for today sings about God’s kingship. You cannot tell from the English translation, but it is an ‘Alphabetical’ Psalm, each verse beginning with a succeeding verse of the Hebrew alphabet.
It is one of the great Psalms of praise, recited three times a day by the Jewish people. It records especially God’s covenant qualities of kindness and fidelity and anticipates Jesus’ description of himself in the Gospel.
Romans 8:9, 11-13.
In the second reading Paul tells the Romans, “You are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.” He continues, “But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” It is the Spirit who gives us life. All humans are doomed to die.
The material life we share with all other living beings in the world is not everlasting. Jesus, a human like us, died; He had to die! But he rose again. Why? What made him rise up? This happened because Jesus had in him the Spirit of God, that is, the fullness of God’s life. The lives of all humans have a beginning and an end. But can the life of God have an end? Can God die? Certainly not! And could Jesus who had the fullness of God’s life, die? Obviously not! Jesus died only to material life, but the Spirit in him raised him up and he continued to live the life of God. Paul tells us that since we have received the gift of that same Spirit, we too cannot die. When the time comes for our life to end, the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, will raise our mortal bodies also.
The second part of this reading (vs. 12-13) points out the moral consequences of this new reality present in each one of us. The actions of the Christian should match the life received in baptism. However if people choose to keep living ‘according to the flesh’, then their deeds will lead them straight to death.
Today’s Gospel reading is even more to the point. Jesus thanks his Father for hiding his wisdom from the wise and the intelligent and revealing it to mere children. This is a clear indication that only the humble are good listeners. Those who are learned and proud are a voice unto themselves. This does not mean that God purposely ignores the learned or the important people, or that he does not like them. Jesus is simply acknowledging a fact and affirming that this is within the plan of God.
The ‘poor, the humble, the lowly’ have been the first to accept and to welcome his word of liberation: it is normal that it should be so, Jesus says. Let us think carefully for a moment. We are convinced that God is a friend of the just, and also favours those who behave well, while the Gospel keeps repeating that his predilection is for the despised ones, for those that nobody respects and wants; the blind, the lame, the lepers, the dumb, the public sinners, the prostitutes. Why is this so? Because these are the ones who need his love the most. The wise, the rich, those who have knowledge, the proud and those who have possessions do not feel the need of God. They believe that they are ‘self-made’ and in total control of their lives.
The knowledge of the Father can only be possible for the Son. But the Son can share this knowledge with anybody he wishes. And who are the graced ones who receive this knowledge from him? The ‘little ones’ of course! The image of God that the learned ones create is often but an idol, it does not resemble in any way the Father revealed by Jesus. Their god is a ‘terrible god’, living far from humankind, controlling their most intimate thoughts and deeds, one who punishes the sinners very severely. Let the ‘learned’ enjoy this god of theirs. This is not the true God of Jesus Christ. This is not the true God of a Christian.
The last part of today’s Gospel is about the oppression that the simple and the poor people suffer at the hands of the ‘wise and intelligent’. The scribes and the Pharisees have set up a very complicated religion, made up of detailed rules impossible to observe, a heavy yoke that overburdens everyone. It is to these poor ones, oppressed by the fear of God and despised by their intellectual and religious leaders that Jesus says: “Away with your fear! Break the bonds of this oppressive religion! Accept my law, the new one. That is only one commandment: love your fellow! My religion is the religion of joy!”
Catholics must learn not only from the experience of Jesus, who was meek and humble of heart, but also from those who cast their burdens on him.
The Gospel and our Christian culture are a mandate for us to never forget to listen to the voices of the ‘little ones’ who carry God’s presence.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us
in the Way, the Truth and the Life:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A, we reflect on …
Sun. … The prophet Zechariah dreams of the day when the ‘warrior’s bow is banished, and the last blow of the sword inflicted, the echoes of war dying away with sombre finality’. The ‘king’ who comes is not riding on a chariot, or even seated on a horse, the preferred transport of the warrior. He comes in peace riding on an animal of peacetime. He comes in humility, yet his rule extends to all the earth. Zechariah is not the first prophet to announce the coming the Messiah. Have we put away our warrior’s bow and our sword? How have we participated in the reign of peace that Christ made possible for us?
Mon. … The prophecy by Zechariah is the opposite of the popular idea of what a king should be; he is not one who will be served, he is the one who will focus his attention to the needs of others. The helpless and the defenceless are not dominated by him; he is at the service of all who need help and compassion. Can we be this type of ‘king’ (protector) to others? Our baptism calls us to this vocation of love.
Tues. …The ‘King of kings’ and ‘King of Peace’ fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah when he triumphantly entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday. Are we able to fully imitate the humility of Jesus or do we still need an ‘up-market image’, to stoke our own pride and impress on others who we think we are? Such foolish pride will destroy us. Though lowly and humble, Jesus gained the greatest of all victories, the victory over evil.
Wed. … Are we choosing ultimate allegiance to life in this world (“the flesh”), with all its perceived advantages? Are we intending to make a home in the flesh and in a morality that for all its glamour, glitz and false promises will end? Or will we be guided by the ‘Word’ and claim our citizenship in the world of the Spirit and live by its values? Like the Roman Christians, Paul urges us to choose our loyalties carefully and wisely!
Thurs. …he ‘Good News’ of Jesus is for those who have known only the ‘bad news’ of the world, the weary and the burdened. Our gentle, humble Lord, in meekness and majesty, comes to offer rest from the world’s cares. Let us in faith and love; rest our weary heads on his bosom in prayer so that we may follow in his ‘Way’.
Frid. … After being crushed under the weight of ‘cares of the world’ we will find the ‘yoke of Jesus’ (the yoke of love), weighty as it is, is light enough to make us dance for joy. All we have to do is make the right choice! Let us pray: “Reveal yourself to us Lord, for we are truly poor and humble”.
Sat. … Once the ‘Cross’ is accepted, the burden remains to be carried, but with the Lord as our companion, we have a new strength and attitude. “I will give you rest”, he promised. There is nothing that cannot be conquered with the Lord at our side.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, we pray for Your grace that we may willingly shoulder the yoke of Christ and hand ourselves over completely to the Higher Power of the Blessed Trinity. We pray that Your power of love may energize us to become willing servants to the poor and needy.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.