8 and 9 July 2017 Fourteenth Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily
Jesús has said some hard and challenging things in his “commands” to his disciples.
We are to love Jesús more than anything.
We may be persecuted for loving Jesús even a little.
We can only gain our lives by losing them.
We are to trust in the Father’s goodness not matter what.
Today the scriptures seem to give us reason for hope. In the first reading the king’s “coming” to the people is promised. This King will come riding on an ass. If a king rides in on a horse, he is declaring his willingness to wage war.
The chariot, we are promised by the prophet, will be “banished” . In other other words all weapons of war will be done away with.
If we reflect upon the second Reading from the Letter to the Romans we are given even more reason to have confidence in the promise of salvation.
Paul, in Romans, is explaining the implications of our baptism. So what does Paul means when he says today:
“You are not in the flesh: on the contrary, you are in the Spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.”?
Paul is not saying we do not have bodies made of flesh. Literally we have flesh, live in our flesh, can’t be free of or leave our flesh until we die.
The translation of the Greek word “sarx” with the English word “flesh” in this reading is unfortunate for two reasons.
First, “sarx” for Paul’s purposes would better be translated as “yourself” or “human condition” or “ego”. The last word “ego” is a Latin word that refers to our “self”, or our “idea” about who we are.
The Second reason that “flesh” is an unfortunate translation for “sarx” is that we often think of “flesh” in the Bible as “sex” as in sexual activity or immoral sexual activity.
If we think of “sarx” as “self” or “myself” in Paul’s passage today from Romans it points to Baptism changing us.
After Baptism I no longer think of my “self” as living only “in” and “for” me, myself or I.
The transformation of baptism is about how our “self” is transformed when we live “in the Spirit.” If I live in the Spirit of God then I am changed, transformed and transfigured.
Paul says whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him (Christ).
If I am still thinking that life, religious practice, my religious rituals are all about “me” or the all important “I” then I still belong to “myself” and cannot even begin to belong to Christ.
“Paul tells us we are not debtors to the flesh…” In other words we are not debtors to “ourselves”.
Our “debt” is to live not for ourselves but to allow ourselves to be transformed by living in and for Christ.
Paul concludes today:
“For if you live according to your flesh / sarx/ self, you will die, but if you live by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Paul is explaining what Jesús said last week about “if you lose your life (your self centered self) you will find your life (true self).
The Gospel today begins with another paradox not unlike the one I just mentioned.
Jesús says to his Father “….you have hidden these things from the wise and learned
you have revealed them to the little ones”.
“Little ones” in this context means not children but person’s who may be “new” at hearing the Gospel and heeding the call to follow Jesús.
Jesús invites “all” to come and receive rest.
Jesús’ yoke “is easy” and his burden is “light”.
We know the “yoke” used for farming or hauling material requires, even demands a community of at least two animals and a person to guide the animals.
Jesús promise of a “light burden and and easy yoke” tells us that our journey of faith is not mine or about me or only for me.
Our faith can only be lived, be transforming, be possible if each of us becomes part of the “we” who as Paul tells us “….though many are one if Christ.”