O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of 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;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
As for you also, because of the blood of my
covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of
today I declare that I will restore to you double.
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.
All your works praise you, O Lord, *
and your faithful servants bless you.
They make known the glory of your kingdom *
and speak of your power;
That the peoples may know of your power *
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; *
your dominion endures throughout all ages.
The Lord is faithful in all his words *
and merciful in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all those who fall; *
he lifts up those who are bowed down.
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
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
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.”
The Rev John C Powers
Sunday, July 9, 2017, St. Bede's Westport
THERE IS THE STORY OF THE FAMLY OF SOCIETY PEOPLE IN VICTORIAN ENGLAND WHO WERE SHIPWRECKED ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH THEIR BUTLER.
THEY WERE AN IMPRESSIVE LOT, HIGHLY SOPHISTICATED IN THEIR LEARNING AND THEIR FORMAL EDUCATION. AFTER THEY LANDED ON THE DESERT ISLAND, THEY WOULD HAVED STARVED TO DEATH IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR THE BUTLER. IT WAS THE BUTLER WITH HIS COMMON SENSE AND EXPERIENCE OF REAL LIFE THAT SAVED THEM.
IN TODAY’S GOSPEL JESUS IS SAYING THAT ALL THE SCHOLARS, INTELLECTUALS, AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF HIS DAY DON'T REALLY KNOW VERY MUCH ABOUT LIFE. THEY HAVE THEIR ETIQUETTE, THEIR RULES, THEIR LAWS, AND THEIR EXPERTISE. AS SOMEONE ONCE SAID ABOUT A SMARTY PANTS, "HE KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING AND NOTHING ELSE." HE MAY BE BRILLIANT, BUT CAN'T BOIL WATER. IN JESUS' TIME THE RELIGIOUS QUESTIONS WERE ALL SETTLED… DO WHAT YOU'RE TOLD, OBEY THE LAW AND THE 600 PLUS LAWS, AND EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY.
WE HAVE OUR SHARE OF PEOPLE WHO MISS THE DEEP WISDOM THAT THE HUMAN RACE HAS LEARNED OVER THOUSANDS OF YEARS. MUCH OF THAT LEARNING IS THANKS TO GOOD RELIGION: THE SABBATH, WHICH TELLS US THAT WE ALL NEED A DAY OF REST, THE LASTING AND WONDERFUL JOYS OF FAMILY LIFE IN A WORLD WHERE THERE IS A HIGH PRIORITY ON INDIVIDUALISM, THE ABILITY TO ENJOY THE SIMPLE THINGS IN A WORLD WHERE THE NEXT EXCITEMENTS OR PURCHASES BECOMES A MUST. SOMETIMES THE SIMPLE THINGS SEEM TOO STUFFY, TOO NAIVE, TOO ORDINARY, AND NOT FILLED WITH ENOUGH PIZZAZZ. WITH OUR RELATIVE AFFLUENCE, WE ARE ALL ABLE TO DO SOME PIZZAZZY THINGS. WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, LOADING UP THE FAMILY TO GO 1500 MILES AWAY TO DISNEY WORLD IS A PRETTY FABULOUS VENTURE COMPARED TO PREVIOUS GENERATIONS.
TODAY JESUS TELLS US THAT OFTEN THE REAL TRUTHS, THE LASTING TRUTHS ARE HIDDEN FROM THE SO-CALLED WISE AND INTELLIGENT AND ARE REVEALED TO INFANTS, IN OTHER WORDS, TO THOSE WHO ARE SIMPLE, UNCOMPLICARTED, INNOCENT, AND OPEN. THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.
JESUS IS TELLING US ONE IMPORTANT THING:
GET YOUR PRIORTIES RIGHT AND CLEAR. THERE IS A CERTAIN SIMPLICITY IN FOLLWING OUR LORD AND HIS WAY OF THE CROSS. HE EVEN SAYS, "COME TO ME ALL YOU THAT ARE WEARY AND ARE CARRYING HEAVY BURDENS, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST. OUR LORD IS SAYING DON'T GET BURDENED DOWN WITH TONS OF RULES AND REGULATIONS, FIRST BEGIN TO FOLLOW. THERE IS LIGHTNESS IN HIS LOVE. THERE IS LIGHTNESS IN SIMPLY LOVING GOD AND LOVING NEIGHBOR. A LIFE IN WHICH WORK, PRAYER, AND RELATIONSHIPS ARE BUT DIFFERENT EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE IS SIMPLE AND AT TIMES CAN EVEN BE EASY. IT CAN BE CALLED "LIGHT" BECAUSE IT’S PURPOSE AND PRIORITIES ARE CLEAR. JESUS SAYS TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU. THE YOKE IS THE BIG, U SHAPED DEVICE WHICH HARNASSED ANIMALS. ONE PURPOSE OF THE YOKE WAS TO MAKE THE BURDEN LIGHTER AS SEVERAL ANIMALS SHARED IT. JESUS IS SAYING TAKE MY YOKE, WHICH IS EASY SINCE I WILL SHARE IT WITH YOU, AND YOU WILL SHARE IT WITH ALL OTHER CHRISTIANS. YOU DON'T HAVE TO RUN THE WORLD, OR SOLVE EVERY PROBLEM, OR KNOW ALL THE RULES OF BRIDGE OR HOW TO BOW PROPERLY AT COURT, OR HOW TO BE A KNOW-IT-ALL AT YOUR INVESTMENT CLUB.
THAT'S ONE TROUBLE WITH EXTREME FUNDAMENTALISM. IT IS THAT OF HAVING TO KNOW EVERYTHING THAT GOD WANTS, OR FEELING THE NEED TO POSSESS THE TOTAL AND COMPLETE TRUTH, AND OF LEAVING NO ROOM FOR NOT KNOWING. JESUS' BURDEN IS LIGHT BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE TO BE KNOW-IT-ALLS. SOMETIMES, SIMPLY THE DESIRE OF SOME TO KNOW WHERE THEY STAND AND THEN COMPEL OTHERS TO STAND WITH THEM SEEMS TO BE DRIVING MANY PEOPLE TOWARD FUNDAMENTALISM. BOTTOM LINE IS THAT TOO MANY SHOULDS AND OUGHTS END UP CROWDING OUT THE SPIRIT RATHER THAN ENRICHING LIVES.
WE HAVE TO KEEP IT SIMPLE, LOVING GOD AND LOVING NEIGHBOR, KEEPING THESE ESSENTIALS AND RIDING EASY WITH THE REST. WE HAVE TO LEAVE SOME SPACE FOR NOT KNOWING EVERYTHING, FOR BEING LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN WHO TRUST THAT PARENTS KNOW BETTER AND WILL TAKE CARE OF WHAT WE DON'T KNOW. IT'S LIKE OUR EVERY SUNDAY PRAYERS FOR OUR PRESIDENT AND OTHERS IN AUTHORITY, OR FOR SOME PART OF THE CHURCH IN PLACES WE HAVE NEVER BEEN AND OFTEN CAN’T PRONOUNCE. THESE ARE ALL SIMPLE THINGS WHICH ARE LIGHT BURDENS, BUT WHICH MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN OUR WORLD.
SO WE HAVE TO GET OUR PRIORITIES RIGHT AND CLEAR, AND, AS THE GREYHOUND BUS COMPANY USED TO SAY, "LEAVE THE DRIVING TO US." IN OTHER WORDS, FOLLOW SIMPLY IN FAITH AND LEAVE THE HUGE, UNANSWERED QUESTIONS, IN GOD'S HANDS.
JESUS SAYS, "COME TO ME, ALL YOU WHOSE WORK IS HARD, AND WHO CARRY HEAVY LOADS, I WILL GIVE YOU REST."
AND ON THE BASE OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY, IT IS WRITTEN "GIVE ME YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR, YOUR HUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE, THE WRETCHED REFUSE OF YOUR TEEMING SHORE. SEND THESE, YOUR HOMELESS, THE TEMPTEST-TOSSED, TO ME. I LIFT MY LAMP BESIDE THE GOLDEN DOOR." OR AS THE CATECHISM SAYS, "MY BOUNDEN DUTY IS TO WORSHIP GOD EVERY SUNDAY IN HIS CHURCH, AND WORK, AND PRAY, AND GIVE FOR THE SPREAD OF HIS KINGDOM,"
The Prayers of the People
Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church;
That we all may be one.
Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve you;
That your Name may be glorified by all people.
We pray for all bishops, priests, and deacons;
That they may be faithful ministers of your Word and Sacraments.
We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world;
That there may be justice and peace on the earth.
Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake;
That our works may find favor in your sight.
Have compassion on those who suffer from any grief or trouble;
That they may be delivered from their distress.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy;
May we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom.
Let us pray for our own needs and those of others.