Sunday, July 5, 2020

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Come To Me

Today's readings remind us that Jesus came to us, so we have to go to Him now.

In the first reading, we ready how the king will come to us.  A just savior, meek, riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He will banish chariots, horses, the warrior's bow; in other words, He will get rid of wars and battles and bring peace. Let me point out that banishing horses does not mean getting rid of the animal. It means putting an end to using them as means of battle. Remember, in ancient times, horses were used to intimidate enemies. The king here is Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the savior who came. He is the one who is meek and humble of heart. Jesus was the one who rode on an ass or donkey which is when we recall Palm Sunday in the liturgy. Christ is the King. The word Christ means anointed one or the king.Jesus is the king of all. The King of the Universe.

Those of you reading this now may be a citizen of the United States of America. If you are, you of course came off a long celebration of the independence of the nation. July 4th is the day the United States of America celebrates her independence from Britain or the British Crown. This day reminds Americans that their ancestors fought for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They rebelled against a tyranical king in Britain who sat pretty on his throne demanding taxes from the colonists who fled Europe seeking religious freedom. This king was a mundane one. Our true King is the King of Kings and seeks nothing but us and our love. This King gives us true independence, life, liberty and the pursuit of real happiness. In turn, we will praise His name forever, for He is our King and our God. 

The Responsorial Psalm reminds us of this.  God is our King and our God. He is not a tyrant or evil entity seeking to dominate everyone. Rather, He is a loving Father. We should always bless His name and praise it, not out of fear, but out of love. This praising of His name is like when two lovers cannot stop calling each other, texting each other or saying each other's names. It is a bond that goes beyond the physical. So when we praise God's name, we show our deep love for Him. God is good to all. He is compassionate towards all of His works. This means He is there for all of His creation, from the simplest cell to the most complex organism. God is faithful. He never lies. He is incapable of it. This does not mean God is weak. It simply means that since He is truth, there is no room for deception. It just cannot exist in His being. Because He is faithful, He reaches and lifts up those who are bowed down by others. This is why it is important that we live a holy life and seek God's grace always. Our flesh may see all that we are composed of, but there is much more.  The second reading elaborates.

We are not in the flesh, but in the spirit. What does this mean? Are we not flesh and blood?  Covid 19 Coronavirus is surely reminding us today that we are certainly flesh and blood that can easily become damaged, deteriorate and die. However, the second reading is focusing in the spiritual life after we decide to follow Jesus via the Sacraments, a prayer life and just living.  The Spirit of God dwells in us who are baptized. We become spiritually living in that sense. Our focus is now the soul. We live for its salvation. If we do not have the Spirit of Christ in us, then we do not belong to Him. However, this is not the case for us who are baptized and confirmed in the faith. We have the Holy Spirit in us and He will give our mortal bodies life too. This is not only for the last day, but every day. The Holy Spirit gives us the grace or life of God in order for us to grow closer to Him. This is why we must not live according to the flesh. The flesh has many desires and can sometimes be hard to control. However, we must do humanly possible to avoid sin or the occasion of sin. If not, then we remove God's Spirit from our being. We become dead to Christ and alive for the flesh. Flesh is weak and leads to temptation. The word flesh here is not literally skin or muscle, but behaviors related to passions that rely on the physical. These passions can be sexual desires, vices that abuse the body, bad behavior, etc.  Jesus does not force Himself on us. He revealed all that we need to know to seek Him, so we have to do our part. The Gospel today reflects on this.

Jesus says that He too praises His Father who is the Lord of heaven and earth.  The Father gave all things to the Son. He is the only way we can know God, because He is God. No one can know the Father except via the Son.  The Son reveals Him to us. Jesus tells us to come. He invites those who are burdened and tells them that He will give them rest.  This call is not just for those physically working, but for those spiritually working. In other words, Jesus is not necessarily speaking to a construction worker tired from work. Rather, He is speaking to that man, woman or child who is trying his or her best to live a holy life apart from the flesh. This is hard work that is even harder than physical labor. Trying to be holy is not easy. Buying a pyramid or discovering a new physics theorum is much easier. This is because these things already have a blueprint or schema that works for the purpose to reach its intended goal. Being a saint is not so easy in this regard. While we have the Sacraments, Commandments, the Sacred Deposit, prayer etc, each of our lives are different, so the outcomes or path will not be the same for everyone.  St. Francis is not St. Dominic, St. Martin de Porres is not St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Theresa the Little Flower is not St. Thomas Aquinas. While each of these are saints, they reached that level in different ways which involved battles within themselves and the powers of this world. They faces temptations set up specifically for them and their state of mind and soul. So each of these worked heavily and got their rest from Jesus.  Similarly, we struggle here trying to be holy and live a righteous Catholic Christian life and become weary. It takes a huge tow on our physical nature, spiritual nature, emotional and psychological nature. Unfortunately, many of us give up. This is why we have to persevere.  If we stick to Christ and His spirit, the yoke will be easy and the burden light.

Today we are facing a different world. The world is rebelling against God and the Church more and more. In America, despite having the first amendment, Churches are threatened by the state for not following guidelines regarding lock downs. Recently, the attorney for Los Angeles sent a cease and resist letter to the Archdiocese demanding that they suspend public Mass again. These are affronts against our religious liberty granted by the Constitution. However, we know what is behind this. This is the demonic working in the background. Notice how the world became mad after public Mass was suspended.  The Mass is the most powerful prayer on its own. However, when billions are united with it, there is even a bigger display of power and faith. When public Mass was shut down, the demons that run the show behind the scenes became more active. What they fear the most (The Mass), was limited and hidden behind churches and chapels only visible on some social media outlets. We are now seeing the effects. It is no surprise why the statue of St. Junipero Serra was targeted, as well as, statues in the Fatima Shrine in Buffalo New York and other places. A Tabernacle was even stolen in a parish in the south. Now activists are calling for images of Jesus and Mary to be destroyed and march through the streets shouting, "There is no God." Is this merely human frustration due to witnessing a horrific murder of an African American being arrested?  One will be foolish to think this and not see what is really going on behind the scenes. The demonic forces are behind all of this. They are taking advantages of this situation to push God away and intimidate believers. We must work hard, resist the flesh and call on Christ's Spirit to help us.  We much come to Him and He will give us rest.  May Jesus Christ be praised! 


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