Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 Jesus said to the crowd, “To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Reflection Jesus’ yoke is easy, his burden is light because he is not weighed down with the baggage of pride, insolence, disrespect and acrimony. Because Jesus consents to the present moment exactly as it is, he is not troubled, irritable, harsh, disagreeable or unkind. Thus unburdened, Jesus is soft spoken, unpretentious and respectful. He is merciful, “gentle and humble in heart.”
As the prophet Zechariah proclaims, “The king comes humble and riding on a donkey… He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations…” (Zech 9.10-11) This is a great paradox. The true king, the one who rules and commands peace in all nations, is humble, rides a donkey not a limousine; is soft spoken not disagreeable; unpretentious not disdainful; respectful not unkind. The true king is merciful, “gentle and humble in heart.”
The psalmist makes the same point, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is loving to everyone and his compassion is over all his works.” (Ps 145.8-9) Here is the thing. Like Jesus we are made in the image and likeness of God and intended to embody and express the attributes of God, the true king. We are intended to be slow to anger and of great kindness, full of compassion, gentle and humble in heart. We are intended to command peace in all nations.
How are we to do or be this? How are we to ward off the news and the uncivil discourse that assaults and carries us away? We are steeped in a world that endorses pride, insolence, disrespect and acrimony. We are constantly bombarded by troubled, irritable, harsh, disagreeable and unkind words and images. If we allow this negativity to grab us and sweep us away we will not be “gentle and humble in heart.” We will lose all hope.
But, we are people of God and we find our hope by choosing to live “with-God lives.” So we come together to worship, study and learn from Jesus. We come together to exchange our troubled, irritable, harsh, disagreeable and unkind thoughts, words and actions for Jesus’ gentle and merciful ways. We come together to relieve and replace the burdens of our pride, insolence, disrespect and acrimony with Jesus’ compassion and humble heart.
No, this is not easy, in fact we probably cannot do it by our will alone. That is why we put our faith in Jesus’ teaching, “For humans it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19.26)
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