Sermons

July 9: Fourteenth Sunday

“Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest…for I am meek and humble of heart.” Matthew 11:25-30.

 

Days following the presidential election, which had surprising outcomes for the political parties and the media, on November 9th, the New York Times published an article with the title: “Six Books to Help Understand the 2016 Election.”

I found it ironic that so many astute observers had missed the swift political currents that many needed to go back and revisit what had just happened — right before their eyes.

Maybe a good book would help?

One of these books on the list, J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy propelled immediately onto the best seller list. It’s a memoir of a young man’s rural family and the culture in an Ohio steel town, and how they had become estranged and mostly looked down upon by rest of the country, and mostly overlooked especially by politicians.

In a way, these literary efforts don’t differ much from the sentiments of writers like our own John Steinbeck who spoke for our farming and ranching people during the Great Depression in “The Grapes of Wrath, and “East of Eden.

Fair enough, in every time there are people whose voices are hardly heard, and only from the periphery. One of the great American poets and essayists, Wendell Barry has a most compelling line that relates directly to our gospel.

Berry writes: “If change is to come, it will come from the margins. It was in the desert, not the temple that gave us the prophets.”

As we read today’s Gospel of Saint Matthew, this passage comes from Chapter 11 and provides the first glimpse into the transition from the ministry of John the Baptist to the efforts of a successor in Jesus and his disciples.

Here we read of the great challenge deep within the Jewish establishment indifferent to him at the beginning and towards the end, they turned violent at the cross and Calvary.

Nonetheless, Matthew marks the transition to a new generation of believers — those who were previously overlooked and in most cases, looked down on.

Jesus spoke to and spoke for the needs and hurts of children, women, the poor, the blind and lame, the unnoticed. We learn from his simplicity, humility as the best expression of a humble heart, the very Sacred Heart.

“Come to me, all who labor and are burdened” is an invitation to this new generation of believers, that you have the opportunity to celebrate God’s “invisible kingdom of the heart.”

It’s in this unique relation with Christ with his arms open to all, and his great heart, a reminder that his love is universal.

Does Christ’s love embrace everyone?

The Sacred Heart tells us that no one is unworthy of Christ’s love — there are no exceptions.

With this symbol, we too become “other Christs” as we struggle to bring his healing and his saving power to all people in need.

Alice Camille, a spiritual writer, has this to say about the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

“There is nothing sadder than a life without love. But even in those seasons when we feel most alone and uncherished, how dearly beloved we are!

When in doubt, look to that blazing Sacred Heart on fire with yearning for your joy and fulfillment.

Every good thing under heaven is offered to you in the benevolent gaze of Jesus Christ.

Trust this.”

 

Like today’s Gospel passage,  Pope Francis is inviting us back to the person and the heart of Jesus Christ. The Holy Father’s prayer intention for July is focused on those “distant from the Christian faith.”

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