Imitating Jesus, meek and humble

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 09 July 2023
Zechariah 9:9-10 ><}}}*> Romans 8:9, 11-13 ><}}}*> Matthew 11:25-30
Photo by Ms. Nikki Vergara, 2020.

Today we hear the final installment of Jesus Christ’s instructions to the Twelve as he sent them to their first mission which started two Sundays ago. Discipleship is essentially becoming like Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master who is meek and humble of heart.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

For the third straight Sunday, Jesus has been teaching the Twelve including us today some important lessons in discipleship: first is to fear no one except God, then to be never influenced by others except God, and now, to learn from him who is “meek and humble” of heart.

Photo by author at the sacristy of the Manila Cathedral, 07 July 2023.

In the whole Bible, we find that “meekness” is the most remarkable quality of any one sent by God to his people, especially with Moses and King David.

Despite some instances of them getting angry and even being harsh sometimes, both were described as being meek especially Moses described as “the meekest man on the face of the earth” (Num.12:3).

When Jesus came and brought salvation to mankind by obediently dying on the Cross, he became the embodiment of meekness.

To be meek means being gentle and obedient, exactly who Jesus Christ is. All throughout his life, Jesus had repeatedly expressed everything he said and did were in total obedience to the Father who sent him to save us. That is why that we too find Christ’s words and actions as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of God coming to save his people, of sending someone so different from the other kings and servants before him. This is very evident in the gospel of Matthew who emphasized on the meekness of Jesus Christ that in narrating to us his version of the Palm Sunday entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, he actually cited (Mt. 21:4-5) our first reading today from Zechariah:

Thus says the Lord: Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.

Zechariah 9:9

Unlike the kings and other powerful men of the world who rode on prancing horses symbolic of their power and strength, here is Jesus Christ riding a placid donkey, symbolic of his meekness and humility, most especially of his message of peace.

Meekness in Tagalog is maamo, from the root word amo referring to “master”, connoting one’s recognition of master by being submissive in the positive sense. Maamo also means being tame as opposite with being wild. Hence, the English word of being gentle, or gentility.

The good news of Jesus being “meek and humble” is that we need not be afraid of becoming his disciples, of becoming truly Christians in this age relativism when anything goes, no more absolutes like God and morality. Now more than ever, St. Paul’s admonitions in the second reading are so real when we are challenged to live in solidarity with Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit, or to live in solidarity with the old humanity enslaved to sin.

Yes, the Gospel of Jesus is demanding. And so is true love which is most demanding.

Photo by author, La Mesa Forest Reserve seen from Our Lady of Fatima University-Quezon City with the Sierra Madre as background, January 2023.

There will always be pains and hurts but these occasions make our discipleship, our love for Christ and for others most meaningful and fulfilling. The Lord’s “yoke is easy and his burden is light” because it is naturally human and divine like him made possible with his paschal mystery. Being loving and kind, forgiving and merciful, caring and helpful are never painful nor tiring because they liberate us, setting us free from the imprisonment and shackles of sin due to our pride and self-centeredness, leading us to true freedom and fulfillment.

Why is it now life has become so complicated? It is not because of Jesus nor of his Church who simply echoes his teachings as he had commanded. Life has become complicated ever since we have allowed and accepted all these modern thoughts of freedom that actually “unfreed” us like these trends from the “sex revolution” that have spawned all the evils plaguing us, from divorce to contraceptions and abortions that not only destroy human life but most especially the family, society’s basic unit. There are some insisting on altering the most basic and natural of God’s creation like gender as either male or female, nothing in between; and, marriage solely between man and woman.

See how life has been reduced to lifestyle characterized by commercialization of everything including persons with sex casually portrayed as an act or activity and a mere part of the body. Everything has become relative, to each his own. That is why life has become so tiring, even empty despite all the comforts and modern amenities we now enjoy.

We have been removing God from everything, from all his creation. That is why Jesus comes to us today, calling us all to come to him, all who are burdened to find rest in him.

Find Christ in yourself, you find Christ in others. When we find Christ, we find God, we find truth, we find life, we find rest.

Our gospel this Sunday comes as a fitting closing to the Lord’s lessons on discipleship. It is never easy in becoming a Christian, of standing for what is right and true, just and fair, in being kind and forgiving, in lovingly serving others without expecting anything in return.

Let’s not make it more difficult on our part. Examine the demands of Christ are actually simple, love him by obeying him. What are the demands of those trying to lord over us these days like those so-called wokes and liberals who are so harsh in insisting their views that are self-serving and unnatural.

Remember, our series of these instructions came when “At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt.9:36, June 18, 11th Sunday). Jesus added that we pray for more laborers to work in the bountiful harvest, for more persons who are loving and warm, not demanding nor insistent on themselves and their beliefs. Have a restful week ahead! Amen.