FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A
Zechariah 9:9-10, Psalm 144:1-2,8-11,13-14, Romans 8:9,11-13, Matthew 11:25-30
One of the Marks of a true prophet is the fact that he may not fully understand his own prophecy. He utters what he has been inspired to say. Zechariah is a post-exilic prophet. When the people of Israel returned from exile and they saw the city in ruins and did not know how to start to rebuild the city ravaged by war, he told them that God would in due time send them a king from the line of David who will restore peace to the people. Zachariah did not know who this king would be, but many years later, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy.
On palm Sunday which begins Holy week, the gospel reading tells us of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The reading quotes part of the first reading of today where we have the prophecy of Zachariah. Jesus is the promised king from the line of David.
The Jews have long suffered from their neighbouring nations, and when they heard that a king in the line of David was coming, they thought Jesus would be a powerful and ruthless king, who will take them to war to defeat their political enemies. They could not believe their eyes when Jesus came and started preaching peace, forgiveness and mercy.
The use of the word donkey, colt and ass is very significant. When kings were going to war, they used donkeys because of its power and strength to travel long distance without getting tired, but when they were on a peaceful, harmless and pleasurable trip, they used a colt or an ass. This was the way Jesus entered Jerusalem as a king on palm Sunday. Jesus therefore presented himself as a peaceful king.
As Christians, we should always bear in mind that war is not always the best way to win battles. Many battles are won in a peaceful manner. This is why St Paul tells us in the second reading of today, that there is no need to take interest and fight over things that are not spiritual. This is because, if we have the same Spirit as that of Jesus, we will also live peaceful lives, knowing that most battles in life are not physical but spiritual.
In the gospel reading, Jesus himself tells us that God has revealed the mystery of the kingdom to children instead of those who think they are powerful and wise. The secret of the kingdom is peace and tranquility which we see in children and the lowly, instead of war and chaos. Jesus therefore tells us to learn from him when we are burdened. According to him, "come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls". Jesus had many reasons and various opportunities to wage war against the soldiers, the pharisees and all those who wronged him, but he remained calm and gentle.
To be calm and make peace when people wrong you instead of making war and creating trouble, is not a sign of weakness, but of one who knows what it means to be a Christian, and one who understands the secret of the kingdom of God. May God help us to remain calm and steadfast in the midst of turbulent times. God help us. Amen.
Fr Michael Osatofoh Eninlejie MSP