The 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Zechariah 9:9-10, Romans 8: 9, 11-13, Matthew 11:25-30)
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman wrote: “Our job is not to get to heaven but to bring heaven down to earth.” I used his reflection as a springboard for today’s homily. “When it all began, heaven was here on earth. This physical, earthly world, more than any of the higher spiritual worlds, was the place where the very essence of G d’s infinite light could be found. But humankind, step by step, banished that divine presence from its home, with a tree of knowledge, with a man who murdered his brother, with all those things that human beings do… Since humankind chased it away, only humankind can bring it back” (Chadab, org). He continues: “The Torah originates in heaven and consists of G d’s vision for the perfection of the world. By spreading the knowledge of the Torah to ourselves and others, we are bringing heaven down to earth. By reshaping both our own lives and the lives of others following the Torah’s teachings, we are bringing life on earth up to heaven.” What an awe-inspiring thought!
In today’s first reading, the prophet Zechariah shared a moment of ecstasy with us. He had a vision of the coming of the Messiah. As he put his vision into words, he described how Christ, the Light of the World, returned to his earthly dwelling. One hears echoes of the Book of Revelation. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him” (Rev. 3:20). The Lord of Lords entered into the lives of people who step by step had banished him from their lives but now have heard his voice and opened the door for him to enter their hearts. The beloved Son came into our world to make all things new. By conforming our lives to his, we can work to build up the dwelling place of God in our midst. When we keep God’s commandment to love one another, the love of God binds us together.
God made us in his image and likeness. God, who is Love, made us out of love for love’s sake. Because he first loved us we can love one another. God so loved the world that he drew us into the communion of love with cords of love. When we give freely that which we have received from him, we manifest God’s infinite love and mercy for the whole human race. He is rich in mercy, and he enables those among whom he had made his dwelling place to do works of compassion and grace. Those who have been consumed by the fire of divine love, radiate the glory that shines on the face of Christ and bring heaven down to earth. The apostle to the Gentiles wrote. “You are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on fleshy tablets of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:3). Through baptism we are drawn close to the heart of Christ. With him, we find our resting place close to the heart of the Father, and with bonds of love, we draw all we meet into the communion of love of the Trinity, thus bringing life on earth up to heaven.
The Psalmist left us these beautiful words. “The Lord takes delight in his people. He crowns the humble with salvation”. (Ps. 149:4). In today’s gospel passage, Saint Matthew spoke of Jesus’s delight in the love of his Father and how he manifests the Father’s love by being the word of revelation to all the Father brings to him. As the Word Made Flesh he brings heaven down to earth and makes his dwelling among us. As the risen and ascended Lord, he brings earth to heaven and prepares a dwelling place for us in his Father’s kingdom. Jesus delights in all that he sees the Father do, and in imitation of his Father, he calls all who are willing to respond. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mat. 11:28). He who is the Lord of heaven and earth is calling us to come to him. He who poured himself out for the love of us desires to fill us with his love and give us every good gift. He sees how we are struggling under the weight of the burdens we carry. Moved by infinite compassion, he asks us to let him take our burden upon his shoulders. Yoked to him, we will never walk alone.
Jesus invites us to come to him where we will find rest for our souls. Because he is close to the heart of the Father, he shares the fathers love for us and wants us to know the depth of the Father’s love for us. If we respond to his call and accept his invitation, we will receive rest for our souls and find peace in our hearts. Because of his great love for us, He who is the Lord of the Sabbath has become our Sabbath Rest. By becoming his disciples and listening to his words we become his friends and begin to build the future according to his designs. When we have made life into “heaven on earth” – reconciling the two – heaven and earth will testify that we have fulfilled our mission in life. Please ponder this beautiful insight from Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B.
I began to realize that “a good life” had something to do with making life good for other people. Slowly, slowly I began to arrive at the oldest Catholic truth of them all: all of life is good, and that sanctity does not consist in denying that. Sanctity consists in making life good for everyone whose life we touch.