Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 6, 2014: 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time A

Click to hear audio homily
Do you think a 5 year old child worries about anything? We might say,  “What could they possibly worry about? They don’t have to pay bills, cook dinners, or manage carpools.” Yet — just like adults — they have their share of daily demands and things that don't go smoothly. If frustrations and disappointments pile up, kids can get stressed or worried. A five year old girl was worrying about how long her mawmaw would be with her on earth, so she asked her mawmaw how old she was. Mawmaw replied that she was so old she didn’t remember anymore. Her granddaughter then made a suggestion, “If you don’t remember you must look in the back of your underwear. Mine says five to six.’

What do you worry about? Some wise person at one mass said, “Father, you haven’t seen me in a while because I was ill. May I give you advice? Don’t get old.” We worry about many things like getting old, our high cholesterol level, or paying our bills on time. Somethings we can do something about, but we have been putting them off. Somethings we begrudgingly accept because they are an inevitable part of life, while other things we worry about we have no control over. People find the Serenity Prayer to be helpful at times when they worry a lot. We are all familiar with the first part of that prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” I will share the rest of the serenity prayer a little later.

Do you remember the times that you turned to Jesus when you were worried or anxious about something? In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites us to do just that: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” We may ask, “What possibly can Jesus do for me and my burdens? What does He know about my burdens?” During the years he spent at Nazareth, Jesus lived among the ordinary people. For many years he lived the life of a working man. He knew, first-hand, the struggles, difficulties, and frustrations ordinary people had to endure. He was aware of the heavy burdens life placed on their shoulders. He felt the pain of  the ordinary people and wanted to lighten their burdens. Many came to him from everywhere with their sickness and misery. His mere presence could bring peace to an anguished soul.

Jesus goes one step further. He invites us to place our hands in His hands, just as a child places his hands in his father’s, and open ourselves to be led by Him. He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” For those of us who do not yet believe in the love of Jesus, our circumstances appear the same as they did before we entrusted them to Jesus. They may even taunt us, “Your situation hasn’t changed a bit! This Jesus is just positive-thinking nonsense!” But for those of us who believe in the love of Jesus, we know that the heavy cross Jesus carried to Calvary was the very burden we are carrying now--our hardship, anxiety, loneliness, handicap, failure, bitterness, guilt, grief, illness, old age, feeling that we are a burden to others. This is the secret that Jesus withheld from the wise and the learned but revealed to the child-like.

Jesus invites us today to trust him as we entrust our doubtful and burdened hearts in His. He invites us to pray the second half of the Serenity Prayer with faith: “Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that Jesus will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.”