A Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday, July 9, 2023
Holy Ghost Church – 10:00 Mass
Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30
Today’s gospel reading gives us three important keys of our faith to reflect upon and put into practice.
The first is that God hides the deepest truths from the wise – or we might say from the proud, those who think much of themselves – and he reveals them to those who are little, or we might say those who are humble. A simple faith is the most profound faith.
The second is that no one knows Jesus perfectly except his Father, and no one knows God the Father except by his Son. No one comes to know the Father except by the Son. It is only through Christ that anyone comes to know God and his will for us.
And the third key is that Jesus promises rest to those who are laboring and burdened. Those who give him their burdens and take his burdens upon themselves will experience joy in their lives, even in the midst of hardships and difficulties.
The First Key
The first key to living our faith well is to understand that the truly wise are those who approach their faith with simplicity. The greatest wisdom is found in simplicity. In regards to our faith, simplicity is more profound than complexity.
Consider these examples:
The Lord’s Prayer – it is short and simple. Unlike many prayers, it is not complicated. Given to us by Jesus himself, it contains everything we need to address and ask of our Heavenly Father. It’s short, simple, yet profound. If all we ever pray each day is the Our Father, we have prayed well. Pray it often and slowly, reflecting on the deep truths this simple prayer reveals.
The Apostles’ Creed – it too is short and simple, yet it summarizes the whole truth of our faith. Many theological debates in the Church are overly complicated and full of unnecessary nuance. If we honestly profess and truly believe the Apostles’ Creed we are in line with the essentials of our faith. It is short and simple, yet worthy of years of deep, prayerful reflection.
Now this certainly doesn’t mean that there is no room in our faith for theologians who probe and debate the deepest truths of the faith. Of course there is! Some of our greatest Saints have been very deep thinkers and over the centuries have challenged those who have promoted heretical beliefs. But for most of us, a simple faith that doesn’t question Church teaching is far more helpful than an incessant attitude of questioning or skepticism.
As adults we must become like little children again in our faith, in spite of all the knowledge we may have acquired. Remember, the greatest wisdom is found in simplicity. A simple faith is true faith.
The Second Key
The second key to living out our faith well is to understand that no one knows the Father except the Son. No one can come to the Father except by the Son. This is true for both Christians and non-Christians alike.
Whatever wisdom anyone has ever attained about the nature of God – even pagans such as Socrates and atheists such as Buddha, this knowledge was given to them by the one light who is the source of all truth…Jesus Christ.
Whatever good non-Christians do has its source in God. Whatever truths they understand are given to them by God, specifically by the Son of God, who is Truth itself.
Jesus is not only the BEST authority about God, he is the ONLY authority. All knowledge of God comes through him, including the knowledge that other world religions and well-intentioned atheists have.
While we can find portions of truth outside the Church, the FULLNESS of Truth is only found in Christ, who is Truth itself. This FULLNESS of truth is communicated exclusively by the Catholic Church and found in her teachings. While other Christian denominations clearly have elements of truth and share many of the essentials of our faith, only the FULLNESS of truth can be found in the Church he established through his Apostles.
It is the Church to whom Jesus gave all authority on earth to interpret scripture, forgive sins and teach without error the essentials of salvation.
And where do we go to find these error-free teachings? We find them in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. While they are relatively simple to understand, the Church’s teachings are often difficult to live out because they don’t always fit with our selfish ideas and desires. They challenge us in ways we don’t want to be challenged. They are counter-cultural and require sacrifice for us to give our full ascent to them.
We can be tempted to twist Church teaching to our own liking, and that’s when we get into trouble. That’s when we fail to enter into a true relationship with our Lord, making ourselves to be false authorities about those things God requires of us, rather than listening to the wisdom of the Church and changing OUR thinking to bring ourselves in line with Her wisdom. Many think the Church should “get with the times,” but the truth is that we must change our hearts and minds to embrace her timeless teachings, regardless of how counter-cultural they may be.
The Third Key
Finally, the third key from today’s Gospel is that Jesus invites us to take on his yoke, his burden, his heart, which he tells us is easy…that his burden is light.
Jesus reveals to us that it is only by surrendering our will to his that we find peace and joy in this life. When we attempt to carry our burdens by ourselves we find them to be very heavy. But when we give them to Jesus and take on his burdens, we find our load greatly lightened. We all have things we must let go of and give to him. Bad habits, addictions, anger, grudges, and so much more.
When we take on his burdens by visiting the sick, feeding and clothing the homeless, burying the dead, praying for others and practicing the other spiritual and corporal works of mercy, our own personal burdens are lightened. When we carry his yoke – his burdens – our own burdens become much lighter. They won’t necessarily go away, but they will be much easier to carry.
Only by giving ourselves over to Jesus completely will we experience his light yoke. When we surrender ourselves completely to his will we will then experience the joy and the peace that passes all understanding.
So, dear friends in Christ, let us remember these three lessons from today’s gospel so that we might enter into a deeper relationship with Our Lord so as to experience the fullness of His joy and peace in our lives.
1. Keep your faith simple. Don’t analyze everything. Believe and pray with a childlike faith.
2. Come to know God better by accepting ALL of the teachings of his Holy Catholic Church, and ask God for the grace to live according to them.
3. Turn over your life to him completely, surrendering your will to his so that you might carry his light and easy burden, rather than carrying your own heavy and difficult burden by yourself.
These three keys are essential to living our Christian faith well. Use them every day and you will certainly grow in faith and love.