The Great Remedy

14th Sunday in O.T. (B); July 9, 2017

Zec 9:9-10 Ps 145 Rom 8:9,11-13 Mt 11:25-30

Deacon Jim McFadden; (New) Folsom Prison

 

Life is hard, but good. But, when it’s hard, it can feel like one continual beat-down. Then we hear the tender words from Jesus in today’s Gospel, which are a sign of God’s presence and goodness in our lives: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30).

The Lord’s invitation is surprising: He calls people to follow Him who are not among the elite, the powerful, and the wealthy. Rather, He calls those who beaten down, who are distressed, who have many needs that gnaw at their soul. We heard earlier that He healed many sick people who were broken: “He had compassion on the crowds, for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9:35-36).

What was true then is true now: Jesus’ gaze of compassion and mercy extends to us this day, to our world today. Today, his gaze rests behind these walls of Folsom Prison where so many are oppressed by difficult living conditions. I leave it to you to complete the picture. Besides the external environment, there are no grounded, life-giving reference points in this prison environment to give your life meaning and purpose. As you listen to the chatter and noise in the yard, quite often all you hear is the same tired refrains of prison drama, which can be tedious and demoralizing—day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

As inmates huddle together behind these walls, it’s understandable that they become exhausted because there is so much spiritual poverty here. But, you know what, brothers? Outside the walls, there are many dissatisfied, jaded, frustrated people who have given their souls to wealth, prestige, power, and pleasure. They float about, dead-eyed, glassy-eyed in a sea of secularist ideology, which results in spiritual illness such as anxiety and depression.

Christ gaze rests on all of these people. When Jesus gazes upon you, He doesn’t see an inmate; He doesn’t call you by your number, but He addresses you by your name because He sees you as his brother who is a beloved child of his Father, Who is in Heaven. So, Jesus repeats “Come to me, all…of you.”

            This invitation is being addressed to those who are weary. Sometimes our weariness is caused by placing trust in things that are not essential. They look good on the surface, but as the Psalmist reminds us, “They have mouths but speak not; they have eyes but see not” (Ps. 135:16). In other words, they don’t deliver on their false promises because they are disconnected from what really matters in life. In the midst of our weariness, Jesus presents Himself as the Servant of the Lord. And, as we witnessed at the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles, He wants to serve you, He wants to wash your feet if you let him. And, if you do, He will give you rest, but there is a condition: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” What is this “yoke” which lightens instead of burdens, which instead of oppressing, uplifts us? Jesus reveals to us that God is Love. The yoke of Christ is the Law of Love—it’s the Great Commandment in which we love God with our whole heart and soul and our neighbor as our self (cf. Jn 13:34; 15:12).

That’s it, brothers. The true remedy for our wounds—material, psychological, moral—is a way of life based on love towards others, whose source is God Who is Love.

As always, Jesus is forcing the issue; He’s giving us an either-or choice. We’re either for him or against him. We either stay frozen in a lifestyle of having (the 4 Ps) or we surrender to his Way of being in authentic relationship with God and others. We yearn to participate in God’s Life, but to do that we have to live as God does, which is self-gifting love. There is no other Way than that of Jesus. And, as we heard last Sunday, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10:39).

As we become conformed to Christ, “who is gentle and lowly in heart,” we slowly adapt the same attitude and disposition. That’s why it is necessary to give up a belligerent, confrontational, and aggressive attitude towards others.   Such a shift in demeanor can be very challenging especially when others get in your face and try to push your buttons or exert control over you. Our first response is to fight back. But, as we assume Jesus’ yoke in our relationships, the rule of respect and non-violence takes hold. How so? When we listen to Jesus’ teaching, when we follow Him as his disciples, when we participate in the Eucharist, we become assimilated into Him. As St. Paul teaches us, “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). It’s his power of truth and goodness that can overcome any kind of abuse and oppression and can insure your future of eternal life that is worthy of you who are made in the image of God who is Love.

Brothers, this way of life is not a pipedream; it is grounded in Reality. I encourage you to approach Jesus’ Mother, who is our Mother. May she help us learn the humility of Jesus, to take up his light yoke with determination, to experience peace and tranquility in the midst of starkness. As you come to the Blessed Virgin Mary, you will, in turn, be capable of comforting your brothers who are walking with difficulty behind these walls. Amen.

 

17-The Great Remedy

14th Sunday in O.T. (B); July 9, 2017

Zec 9:9-10 Ps 145 Rom 8:9,11-13 Mt 11:25-30

Deacon Jim McFadden; (New) Folsom Prison

 

Life is hard, but good. But, when it’s hard, it can feel like one continual beat-down. Then we hear the tender words from Jesus in today’s Gospel, which are a sign of God’s presence and goodness in our lives: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30).

The Lord’s invitation is surprising: He calls people to follow Him who are not among the elite, the powerful, and the wealthy. Rather, He calls those who beaten down, who are distressed, who have many needs that gnaw at their soul. We heard earlier that He healed many sick people who were broken: “He had compassion on the crowds, for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9:35-36).

What was true then is true now: Jesus’ gaze of compassion and mercy extends to us this day, to our world today. Today, his gaze rests behind these walls of Folsom Prison where so many are oppressed by difficult living conditions. I leave it to you to complete the picture. Besides the external environment, there are no grounded, life-giving reference points in this prison environment to give your life meaning and purpose. As you listen to the chatter and noise in the yard, quite often all you hear is the same tired refrains of prison drama, which can be tedious and demoralizing—day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

As inmates huddle together behind these walls, it’s understandable that they become exhausted because there is so much spiritual poverty here. But, you know what, brothers? Outside the walls, there are many dissatisfied, jaded, frustrated people who have given their souls to wealth, prestige, power, and pleasure. They float about, dead-eyed, glassy-eyed in a sea of secularist ideology, which results in spiritual illness such as anxiety and depression.

Christ gaze rests on all of these people. When Jesus gazes upon you, He doesn’t see an inmate; He doesn’t call you by your number, but He addresses you by your name because He sees you as his brother who is a beloved child of his Father, Who is in Heaven. So, Jesus repeats “Come to me, all…of you.”

            This invitation is being addressed to those who are weary. Sometimes our weariness is caused by placing trust in things that are not essential. They look good on the surface, but as the Psalmist reminds us, “They have mouths but speak not; they have eyes but see not” (Ps. 135:16). In other words, they don’t deliver on their false promises because they are disconnected from what really matters in life. In the midst of our weariness, Jesus presents Himself as the Servant of the Lord. And, as we witnessed at the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles, He wants to serve you, He wants to wash your feet if you let him. And, if you do, He will give you rest, but there is a condition: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” What is this “yoke” which lightens instead of burdens, which instead of oppressing, uplifts us? Jesus reveals to us that God is Love. The yoke of Christ is the Law of Love—it’s the Great Commandment in which we love God with our whole heart and soul and our neighbor as our self (cf. Jn 13:34; 15:12).

That’s it, brothers. The true remedy for our wounds—material, psychological, moral—is a way of life based on love towards others, whose source is God Who is Love.

As always, Jesus is forcing the issue; He’s giving us an either-or choice. We’re either for him or against him. We either stay frozen in a lifestyle of having (the 4 Ps) or we surrender to his Way of being in authentic relationship with God and others. We yearn to participate in God’s Life, but to do that we have to live as God does, which is self-gifting love. There is no other Way than that of Jesus. And, as we heard last Sunday, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10:39).

As we become conformed to Christ, “who is gentle and lowly in heart,” we slowly adapt the same attitude and disposition. That’s why it is necessary to give up a belligerent, confrontational, and aggressive attitude towards others.   Such a shift in demeanor can be very challenging especially when others get in your face and try to push your buttons or exert control over you. Our first response is to fight back. But, as we assume Jesus’ yoke in our relationships, the rule of respect and non-violence takes hold. How so? When we listen to Jesus’ teaching, when we follow Him as his disciples, when we participate in the Eucharist, we become assimilated into Him. As St. Paul teaches us, “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). It’s his power of truth and goodness that can overcome any kind of abuse and oppression and can insure your future of eternal life that is worthy of you who are made in the image of God who is Love.

Brothers, this way of life is not a pipedream; it is grounded in Reality. I encourage you to approach Jesus’ Mother, who is our Mother. May she help us learn the humility of Jesus, to take up his light yoke with determination, to experience peace and tranquility in the midst of starkness. As you come to the Blessed Virgin Mary, you will, in turn, be capable of comforting your brothers who are walking with difficulty behind these walls. Amen.

 

 

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