Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30
We have three sets of homily notes to choose from.
Please scroll down the page.
Rev. Fr. Evaristus Okeke :The Power of God in Humility
Rev.Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai: Gentle and Humble
Rev. Fr. Paul K. Oredipe: LEARN AND LEAN ON CHRIST – MEEKNESS BUT NOT WEAKNESS
Rev. Fr. Evaristus Okeke
The Power of God in Humility
The prophecy of Zechariah was primarily concerned with the rebuilding of the Temple and the restoration of the nation – a restoration that would prepare the people for the messianic age. Consequently, the first reading of today clearly prefigures the kingly nature of Jesus Christ: He will be powerful yet humble. It is on this note that the liturgy of today invites us to reign like Jesus our master. In the gospel reading, Jesus thanked the Father that the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven have been revealed to the humble. He to whom heaven is revealed is indeed powerful. Being powerful and humble at the same time is what we are called to embrace this day. Humility is the seed-bed for the proper germination of power. Without humility, power becomes sicken. Malnourished
In the first reading, Zechariah enumerated the good works that will be associated with the expected Messiah; He shall eradicate evil and instill peace in the land. In doing this, He will not actually be destroying the world but renewing it. Because he rides on a donkey – a sign of peace and humility, the poor and the dejected will be able to approach him; because he is down-to-earth, he will be able to have a firsthand knowledge on the workings of evil amongst the people and their suffering – he will not rely on the report of others. The humility of God makes relationship with him possible and effective. Imagine how effective leadership will be if every leader took out time to concretely live with and amongst the people. If the problem of the people is not experienced by the leader himself, solution may not be a priority. Indeed, incarnation was a possibility because our God “rides on a donkey”.
The humility of God does not go down well with the pride of men who are carried away by appearances. If something or someone is powerful, we want to see the person or thing flaunt the power around. Power is often time misunderstood as the ability to defy protocols, break the laws and get your way around them, reap where one has not sown, oppress the poor and so on. Such misuse of power may be very attractive to the senses but because it is devoid of humility, it ends up destroying rather than building. Divine power is never disrespectful to persons and social order.
However, true power comes from God; for this power is able to save. It enables us to understand and accept our need of God rather than thinking that we can live without Him. Those who acknowledge their need of God are truly powerful. Thus in the gospel reading of today, Jesus thanked the Father for revealing Himself to infants. Infants are known for their dependence on their parents and guidance. Realizing that we need God, we draw close to him. When we do so, Jesus says that he will easy our yoke and lighten our burden. This means that we will never be without Divine assistance in our struggles in this world. Humility is acknowledging your worth as a gift from God and using it for the good of all.
The second reading reveals to us that the pride of the senses is what causes us to fall into the sins of the flesh. The wisdom of this world only leads to death but the wisdom of God is able to save. The fact is, when we live life with a humble disposition, we will relate with things in their true meaning/essence and not for momentary gratification. A heart that truly seeks for the eternal is not caught up by ephemerals.
Beloved, God has made each and every one of us powerful. Our power is his presence and gifts in and amongst us. It is one thing to possess the power of God, it is another thing to use it for the right purpose. If we are humble, we will be able to serve and through our service, the power of God in us will truly and efficiently eradicate evil. But if we are arrogant, we will become licentious. The rich man in Luke 12:16-21 was powerful by his wealth but for his pride, he made wrong decisions, became foolish and was eventually lost. When we are humble, Jesus does not promise that we will not have troubles, but that we will certainly not be lost because He is our wisdom. *God Bless You!*
Rev. Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai
Gentle and Humble
Today’s readings present us with the basic theme of humility. The first reading is a prophecy about the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Passion Sunday. The Lord entered Jerusalem in victory and in humility. In the gospel, Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. This implies that one of the conditions for rest in the scriptures is gentleness and humility. Beloved in Christ, humility pays, the humble is exalted; humility is a secret for greatness in both spiritual and temporal life. Humility is the secret of upliftment. Anyone who is uplifted should be humbled else he or she falls out of grace.
This theme of humility continues in the responsorial psalm as it further strengthens the characters associated with humility. It says the Lord is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness, good to all, compassionate toward all his works, mighty, faithful in his words, and holy in his works. A humble man therefore, ought to equally manifest these attitudes. You can’t say you are humble and yet you are quick to anger, you can’t say you are humble and at the same time you are not kind, non faithful to God’s word. So, Christ’s invitation to come to him is an invitation to be like him. Penny catechism says we are created in his image and likeness. The likeness of God is the likeness of humility, simplicity, holiness and the likes. The likeness of God is slow to anger and gracious. We must possess this likeness otherwise we shall not find rest as he has promised.
The second reading further illustrated this virtue when St. Paul says we are not of the flesh but of the spirit and if we live in accordance to the flesh we shall die. The way of the flesh is the way of pride. The opposite of humility is pride. While humility is a virtue, pride is a vice. A preacher once said that Pride is an endoparasite and ectoparasite that can eat you up externally and internally and render you unfit for heaven. In every one of us there is the parasite of pride in us; either you have it internally or externally. Pride is the governing propensity of the devil. St. Augustine says pride makes angels devil; while humility turn men into angels. We are in a generation where men are full of themselves and empty of God.
Men have become so wise and knowledgeable, for them God is known by the level of degrees you have acquired. Jesus says in the gospel, “you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding”. These people are the achievers; the PhD’s.; the intellectual who live in self-sufficiency. They have wisdom and learning, but their self-sufficiency has made it more difficult for them to rely on God’s wisdom. It is sad when you see highly educated people without character. Some have become so stubborn, others have become ‘Mr know it all’, they are never guilty of any error or mistake. Sirach 3:18 says “The greater you become, the more humble you should be and God will be pleased with you.” I rephrased this by saying that “the more you know, the gentle and humble you should be and you will find rest. No proud man lives in peace.
Again, Jesus makes this statement that “you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding” to show to us that if anyone comes to the saving knowledge of the truth, it’s not by their own intellect and brain prowess. Most of the apostles were not all that educated people but they expressed Christ. You can be the best in school yet you don’t know God. While knowledge is important we must also express faith in the things that knowledge seeks to understand. Ability to express faith is humility. And so, Jesus says but it has been revealed them to little children. “Little children” refers to the most simple.
Like a sunflower that follows
Every moment of the sun,
So I turn towards You, to follow You my God.
In simplicity, charity I follow (2)
In simplicity, honesty I follow (2)
In simplicity, fidelity I follow (2)
Rev. Fr. Paul K. Oredipe
LEARN AND LEAN ON CHRIST – MEEKNESS BUT NOT WEAKNESS
In today’s Gospel of St Matthew, Jesus offers an exultant prayer of praise that defines for us more clearly who He is and with whom He wishes to be identified (11:25-30).
There are three movements in today’s section of Matthew’s Gospel (11:25-30).
In the first movement, Jesus addresses Himself to the Father, rejoicing that the Father’s special love for the poor and lowly is being manifested in His ministry. In the second movement, Jesus addresses Himself in a kind of self-definition. Jesus is the Son to whom full knowledge of the Father is given. The heart of the Son’s mission is to reveal the Father to us. Finally in the third movement, Jesus speaks directly to all those who long for relief, consolation and refreshment.
Jesus tells us about the disposition we need to truly know God and we also hear Him inviting us to learn from Him and to lean on Him. His meekness is not akin to weakness but is the overture of His love, a love that is stronger than death. He desires that His reign be accepted freely and lovingly. He respects the freedom of will with which every human being has been endowed by his Creator. Jesus conquers by love, not fear, force or violence. He brings life, not death.
Thus Jesus, who is the perfect expression of all that God is, is able to say, “Learn of me that I am meek and humble of heart.” We even hear Jesus saying this in a context where He also says, “No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” Jesus is speaking of His equality with His Father, of His divinity, in the same breath as He is speaking of His meekness.
Jesus wants us to be like Him in that He is meek and humble of heart. How shall we show ourselves to be meek? By accepting the yoke of the will of God, which Jesus bore throughout His life on earth, and which He has now passed on to us, who are members of His mystical body. But, He assures us, this yoke is sweet and its burden light.
All of us are born to wear a yoke, and we have no say in the matter, except to choose which yoke we will wear. Many people choose very poorly. For instance, sin can be a yoke. Sin can become our master. We can become slaves to sin. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, the Apostle says, “I am sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (7:14-15) This is the plight of everyone who submits to the heavy yoke of sin.
To accept the yoke of Christ upon our shoulders is to be assured of a gentle and humble master. Any burden given and accepted in mutual love will seem light.
Jesus says now and always, `Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ His attitude towards us is one of invitation, knowledge and compassion. Indeed, it is one of offering, promise, friendship, goodness, remedy of our ailments. He is our comforter; indeed, our nourishment, our bread, giving us energy and life.
“Come to Me”: the Master is addressing the crowds who are following Him, “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). The Pharisees weighed them down with an endless series of petty regulations (cf. Acts 15:10), yet they brought no peace to their souls. Jesus tells these people, and us, about the kind of burden He imposes. Any other burden oppresses and crushes you, but Christ’s actually takes weight off you. Any other burden weighs down, but Christ’s gives you wings.
The invitation of Jesus to his listeners to “learn from me; I am your model” echoes that offered by Wisdom in Sirach 51:23,26: “Draw near to me, you who are uneducated, and lodge in the house of instruction. … Put your neck under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction.” In place of the yoke of the law, complicated by scribal interpretation, Jesus invites the burdened to take the yoke of obedience to His word, under which they will find rest. (cf. Jeremiah 6:16.)
Jesus demonstrates a way of life, a yoke that differs markedly from the one other religious leaders taught in his day. He promises a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light. No wonder that many poor people found his words enormously appealing. Spiritual elitism repels many more than it attracts. The best guides are those who practice what they preach.
Jesus walked His talk, and gives us a wonderful and challenging example to embrace and imitate each day. That is the message Jesus wants us to deliver in all our human relationships. To deliver it credibly, we must be willing to put ourselves under the yoke of others – just as Jesus has placed Himself under my yoke and yours.
We are called to simple trust in God – the God who went before and suffered with us and is with us now in the Bread and Wine. Have faith in God. And what must be our mental attitude towards this revelation? We must be like little children. We can indeed question, we can try to deepen our understanding. But ultimately, we must simply accept, just as children will ask questions as they try to understand what they are being taught. But eventually they will generally accept what they are told.
Paradoxically, children have mature, adult faith, a complete trust and confidence in their parents. “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.” (John 1:12) “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3-4).
Let us always remember the promise that our Lord makes to us in today’s gospel: “Come to me” – in other words, ‘Come to my Church – unite yourself with Me through My continuing presence in today’s world. “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” – ‘see the revelation which I am making for your sake; learn from that revelation about the person of God, and his great love.’ “Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” – ‘unite yourself with Me and your heavenly Father in the sacraments of the Church, in the mission of the Church, in the teaching of the Church.
That is a great privilege and a great responsibility, but I will help you to carry it. Your greatest burden in life is sin, and I will take that upon myself of the cross. So take my yoke: it is much lighter than any you would make for yourselves. And if at times you are weary and are heavy laden, ”come to me and I will give you rest.”
Why Jesus is still attractive today: Jesus was attractive then, and still is attractive now, to millions upon millions. The Messiah came among us, not as a conquering warrior, but in lowliness and peace. Not like the last kings of Judah, who rode in chariots and on horses (Jeremiah 17:25; 22:4), but like the princes of old (Genesis 49:11; Judges 5:10; 10:4), the Messiah will ride on an ass.
The Evangelists see a literal fulfillment of this prophecy of today’s first reading from Zechariah in the Savior’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:4-5; John 12:14-15). Jesus of Nazareth attracted townspeople and country people, poor and rich, fishermen and tax collectors, women like Mary of Magdalene and her cohort who provided for Him and so many others. He had the ability to wow simple and sophisticated souls alike. “Come to me. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” These are hardly admonitions that necessitate a stern gaze and heavy voice. They are words that flow from one who is a lover and a friend.
The yoke of our Savior is different from all the others. The other yokes are hard; His is easy. The others chafe us raw; His fits us perfectly. The others are a heavy burden; His burden is light. And there are several reasons why the yoke of Jesus Christ is light.
In the first place, when we take up that yoke, we are motivated by love. Sin drives us; Christ leads us. A slave serves his master out of fear or necessity or coercion. We serve Christ out of love and devotion. Obedience is our choice. Love can prompt us to do the hard things, the unpleasant things, the lowly things. In fact, those jobs that no one could ever force us to do, we will undertake joyfully for the sake of those we love.
Secondly, the yoke of Christ is in harmony with our nature. The yoke of Christ is in harmony with our purpose in life. The yoke of Christ is in harmony with our deep desire for wholeness of life. Christ’s yoke is light and easy, not only because that yoke is tailor-made for us, but also because we are tailor-made for that yoke.
Lastly, and most importantly, the yoke of Christ is light because that yoke is not carried alone. A First Century yoke was typically made for two. When we are yoked in the service of Christ, we are also yoked in the grace and strength of Christ. The Lord who commands us to bend our necks to His yoke treads beside us and puts His own shoulder to the task.
There are two ways to ease a burden. One is to take away some of the weight. The other is to add to the strength of the one who bears the weight. That is the way of Christ. He respects us too much to lower the standards of the Kingdom for our convenience. He loves us too much to belittle us. He does not always give us small jobs or easy tasks. Sometimes what He requires from us is staggering and frightening, at least to keep on the way. But whatever the job, Christ always gives us the strength to do it. And having done it, we find ourselves to be stronger than before. When the load is too heavy, Christ joins in our struggle.
We should never forget that we are yoked with Christ. To this end, it helps to start each day with a prayer like this: “Lord, help me to remember that there is no problem I am going to face today that You and I together cannot handle.” This is how the yoke becomes easy and the burden light. When the burden is beyond us, Christ is beside us. If we belong to Christ, the journey is never too hard, never too lonely, because we do not shoulder the yoke alone.
Our Lord makes all these promises to us. If we think entirely in human, adult terms, we can get rather depressed by what we see as an impossible task, impossible standards set before us by God. But when we become like children, when we accept lovingly what our heavenly Father is lovingly teaching us, that He will help us with that burden, help us receive most especially through the two sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist, we will find our path is easier and we will know that it is that path that will lead us to heaven.
So let us yield to His call today – come to Him and let Him accompany us in the journey of life and of our faith. He is our Emmanuel – God with us, in all things and at all times, yesterday, today and forever.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the everlasting love of God the Father and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.