Grace to You
We read from the Gospel of Mathew 13:54-58 that the Lord came to his native place of Nazareth. He was not welcome, as he was when in other territories. One could notice that the Lord did not visit Nazareth that often, not more than two times during his public ministry, based on what is documented in the Gospels. This was the town where he was raised and worked with his stepfather, Joseph, who was a carpenter.
The Lord is called the Nazarene, so he was, for that was his home town. One would expect he would ingrain himself in that community and become a local hero. He didn’t.
As an itinerant concerned with the Heavenly Father's work and continuing to do good, he went from place to place, planting the seed of his saving grace. Before we look at the unbelief of Jesus' town people, there is a subtle but crucial lesson in the Lord's way of ministering we could glean.
By not making his mission the Nazarene mission, the Lord showed his universal mission even in his own life. I don't think it was an accident that he spent less time in his hometown. He was born in a place, but he didn't come just for that place. It is an important lesson for those involved in the work of ministry.
Being actively involved in our hometown is a good thing. One has to build one's community. However, when faith life is so domesticated that it becomes our hometown affair, there is a risk of corrupting the Gospel to being that of our class or territory. If, as believers, we do not think beyond our home, race, or a particular culture, we may be allowing the seed of spiritual tribalism in our soul. I have hinted at this message in the previous week. The Lord's example here emphasizes this crucial lesson.
One's mission as a minister flourishes when one sees it beyond one's immediate family or town. For those with a unique call to serve the Gospel, openness and commitments to where the needs are the most serve a higher cause than settling in our safe haven. We look for those opportunities to sow the seed to willing hearts, not simply to harness it for our people.
There is an indirect lesson from this to parish priests too. Sometimes, we think so territorially that we miss the point of the universal mission of Christ we have been called to serve. We protect our parish and are bound to our parish. It is a good thing to protect one's congregation. Although it is presumptuous to assume, we can do so when it is God who can.
Nevertheless, the substantial bad side is narcissistic protectionism. It is not allowing the parish to live beyond us. Not allowing the Church to thrive from the gifts and talents outside of our communities could be a spiritual bottleneck.
Concerning the lack of openness of the Nazarenes who questioned the Lord's credibility because he didn't have scholarly or class credentials, there is this lesson to draw. One's class or educational certificates do not equal knowledge or wisdom. The dumbest things ever proposed in human history came from the so-called elite class and scholars. An example would be the cult of celebrities who, due to having large platforms, often promote the dumbest ideas. In contrast, the humble souls live their normal life and show God's incredible wisdom in their day-to-day activities.
The ordinary-looking life of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, was not what his town people would expect of the messiah. Just like the subtle workings of the wisdom of the Gospel in humble hearts is the sharp contrast of the bravado of celebrities, academic demagogues, and boastful elites.
Yet, the wisdom of God is revealed in that humble heart. Mother Mary is an undoubted testimony. She testified: "God has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).
Approach God with humble hearts. Never discredit the Gospel because of who said it or due to how less elite they may be. Grace is abundant in the ordinary.
I pray for the grace of humble openness to the Gospel. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
[Friday, Week 17, Ordinary Time: Jeremiah 26:1-9; Matthew 13:54-58]
Grace to you!
The reflection today is a continuation of the previous week’s regarding the parables of God's Kingdom. Here, we focus on the Kingdom's incredible worth as the ultimate good, beauty, and truth.
One of the contemporary geniuses I have come to research is Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla. He is the South African, who equally happens to be a Canadian and United States citizen, and one of the leading figures in AI technologies. He co-founded and leads SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company. I like his commitment to warn us of the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence.
Before I continue with Elon, some may say: why use Elon, a non-religious minded person, to speak about the unique value of God's Kingdom? Well, that is the point of an analogy. From a relevant analogy, we get to the crux of issues, in addition to other reasons not necessary to include here.
Reading about him and his off-the-chart innovations, one can see how dogged commitment in searching and working towards a singular goal, led him from one discovery to another. We could also see how he found other things along the way of his commitments to discipline and hard work, which he didn't set out to find. An aspect of his character that is fascinating to me is his willingness to forgo everything and commit to that one thing he firmly believed would lead to his goal. Working 100 hours a week is not meant for everyone. He has to do what he has to do. At one time, it cost him everything. I mean everything, including money, jobs, and friends. Anyone could have given up. But he didn’t. Now he is the second wealthiest person in the world and fast pacing to the first.
Elon is like numerous others we have known who have changed the world. From ancient history to the best minds of our time, it takes the heart to let go of other things that do not matter to find the one thing that matters. It is one of the qualities of wisdom. It is wisdom to distinguish between good and bad and all the in-betweens, what has value and what doesn't. Many could pass by the greatest treasure and never even recognize it was there. In part, this is because they are distracted with too many things that don't matter. The wise person sees and knows and does everything possible to possess the one thing that matters.
Solomon, the wise king of the Old Testament, knew this truth. He would not ask God for anything else but the great wisdom and discernment in his responsibility as a leader (see I kings 3:5, 7-12). With wisdom and understanding, every other thing falls in its proper order.
The Blessed Lord compares God's Kingdom to a buried treasure one discovers, and a pearl one finds as one is searching. Note that in both cases, the characters in the story were searching and not lazing about, waiting for manna and grace to fall from heaven. Though faith is a gift, it requires our commitments too. In each case, the persons take one significant action, namely, selling everything else in order to acquire this one thing that matters the most (Mt 13:44-46).
Here, the believer is reminded of the truth that only one thing is worth our giving up everything else. It is the Kingdom of Heaven. It is God. Nothing is worth any value more than the love and the knowledge of God. To use the phrase of a German philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich, it is the object of our "ultimate concern" (Dynamics of Faith, 2001, p.2). Nothing is worth our ultimate loyalty than singlemindedness in God's things.
If one were to give up everything for something, the person of faith knows that one thing worth dying for is God's Kingdom and reign. No surprise, the heroism of martyrdom is praised as the highest gift of the believer to Christ's body. "The blood of the martyrs," says the North African Church Father, Tertullian, "is the seed of the Church."
Because God's Kingdom is that invaluable treasure and pearl of great value, the person commits to it out of delight, not pain or compulsion. When you find the diamond that you credibly know is worth a nation's wealth, would you feel any sense of loss selling everything you have to acquire it? I wouldn't think so. The value is its own persuasion.
The value of the Kingdom is so high that anyone could give up anything for it. For me, this is the sign of the committed believer—giving it all for God. The person does so with joy and passion too. The angelic doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was spot-on when he suggested that our faith commitments necessarily mature with our love for it (Summa Theologica,1-11, q.62, a.4). Because we love the Kingdom—or rather, we find it a treasure worth every investment—it is a delight.
The Swiss theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar describes it in a somewhat unique way. He made a compelling argument in his massive volumes on the transcendentals (the beautiful, the good, and the true). In the first volume, he argues that because God is the true beauty and Christ the revelation of that beauty to us, we are drawn to the Kingdom. Consequently, we discover the good and truth therein also.
In other words, the hidden treasure and the pearl metaphor capture the reality that the Kingdom of God is the best Good, the highest Truth, and the most excellent Beauty of the human heart and soul. No truth or good or beauty is comparable to the Kingdom of God.
In the Kingdom, as in Christ, everything holds together. Therein, we find the Good we desire, the Truth we seek, and the Beauty we behold.
Make or continue to abide by that radical choice for God, and you have the best going for you. Nothing is worth more.
I am praying for the grace of wisdom and discernment. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Sunday Week 17 A: I kings 3:5, 7-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46]
Grace to you!
There are numerous lessons in the Lord’s parable of the wheat and the weed (Mt 13:24-43). One could spend an entire day exploring the rich message therein. One of them is God's breathtaking mercy and patience who allows the good and the bad to live together, granting them a long enough rope for change; also, being meticulous that a hasty action does not harm the delicate, good wheat (the righteous). We have seen this aspect in some of our previous reflections. During this week we will see more of it too.
Another is how the roots of the weed intertwine with the roots of the wheat. The bearded darnel, which is the most likely weed the Lord was referring to, has stronger roots and durability than the wheat's weak roots. It is not surprising that evil has a more persuasive and louder voice than the good. One spiritual principle I have always used is that when it is the loudest, one must tread with caution. Evil tends to be the loudest, just like the empty vessels echo the loudest.
Moreover, the darnel's mimicry of wheat is off the chart. Worse, it is a poisonous plant. Yet, in the story, the Lord counsels patience, to allow weed and wheat to live together until the day of reckoning—judgment.
I focus on the weed's mimicry quality and how lack of vigilance allows the con master to sow the bad seed. I will use a beautiful story from the animal kingdom to relate to this parable; drawing some crucial lessons to encourage our spiritual vigilance.
You may have heard about some animals who naturally reproduce by nesting on other animals. They are generally called brood parasites. It is so because they con other animals to raise their babies. This behavior is found among some fish, insects, and birds.
One of the most notorious among this set of animals are the Common Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus). Ornithologists have long paid close attention to the mimicry and parasitic behaviors of these birds. Davis and Welbergen, in their experimental test of Cuckoo-hawk mimicry (2008), for example, investigated how Cuckoos tend to be effective in their impersonating behavior. They suggest that due to the Cuckoos’ copycat of sparrow hawks, they are protected from being preyed upon by real hawks. They equally take advantage of weaker birds by domineering influence in others to execute their brood parasitism.
The Cuckoo’s manipulation, if not deceit, is reinforced by two qualities. First, it looks like a common hawk, when it is not, and takes advantage of its color patterns to mimic hawks. So, smaller birds fear it as the hawk and avoid it. Second, because it looks like a hawk, nesting birds sighting the Cuckoo could fly away from its freshly laid eggs while the Cuckoo steps in and lays its own egg in the same nest. It could lay as many single eggs as possible in different nests. It stays at a distance and monitors the entire scheme as the poor, unsuspecting mother birds incubate the infiltrated eggs. One of the Cuckoo's regular victims is the Reed Warbler.
Often, when the Cuckoo hatches, due to its size, it elbows out the Warbler chicks, the nest's real owners. At the same time, the poor mother birds (e.g., Reed Warbler) feed it from their toils as the deceitful mother Cuckoo watches from a distance. It is deceit at all fronts—from the scaring of the other mother birds by mimicking a hawk, laying a false egg, and now feeding by the unsuspecting mother birds.
The worst-case scenario is the actual displacement of the real birds. Due to the bigger size of the Cuckoo, as the unsuspecting Warblers feed the birds, the Cuckoo’s chick’s dominance and size displace the smaller birds. They often fall from the nests and die, while the unsuspecting mother birds feed the parasitic Cuckoo.
The Cuckoo matures and flies away, whereas the mother birds lose everything, their chicks, motherly care, and time. Sometimes, the Cuckoo displaces the Warblers entirely from the territory.
One could compare the above scenario to the parable which the Lord told us, using the weed in the wheat. While we are unsuspecting as devout Catholics or Christians, evil agents come and lay the bad seed. It is just like the Cuckoo deceives the unsuspecting mother bird and plants its egg.
Many things can make us asleep, spiritually unaware of the nature of the field in which we operate. In my opinion, worldliness is one of the chiefs of them. Worldliness makes us not see the difference between the sacred and the worldly. It makes us not understand the deeper meaning in many things around us. It makes us take things at their face value and accept evil excuses and call them good.
The situation of Covid-19 has pushed us as Church to think deeply about our ability to fight and our commitment to spiritual vigilance. While a few understand the spiritual repercussions of less availability of grace opportunities for believers, it seems many do not care. I wonder if this kind of sleep would not produce much more weed in the apostolate's field.
As a priest, this affects me too. I have found myself slipping from time to time and offering excuses. You see, commitments to the life of the sacraments and prayer, and keen attention to God's Word, deepen spiritual vigilance. It is not a skill one learns by oneself. It is a skill one is given by grace flowing from the divine means of grace.
If people don’t have access to the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Cuckoo is gradually taking the spots and laying the deadly eggs. Many will be starved to spiritual weakening if they don't have a way to worship and celebrate the Sacred Eucharist. I feel pain. I am highly concerned.
We need to rethink and recommit to the life of the Sacraments. My recommendation for the person in the pew is a commitment to the liturgical life. Yes, the Divine Office (Breviary) is a required prayer for clergy and religious in the Catholic Church. But that prayer is a Liturgical prayer. I suggest investing during this time to saying that prayer. It is liturgical worship and brings much grace.
Also, find churches around you where you can go to regular Confession and join Mass. I thank God for many parishes who have implemented different diocesan rules to celebrate Mass in small numbers and those who celebrate in open spaces. It is a brilliant way to fight the worldly spirit that is nesting in the situation of Covid-19 and doing harm to many souls.
Television and online Masses and other forms of prayer are helpful too. But these should not be taken as a substitute for searching for alternative places, closer to where you are, to celebrate the Sacraments. There are valid exceptions for those with delicate health. God understands.
As a devout believer, never allow the Cuckoo of the time to deceive you and sow the weed in the field of your spiritual life. Fight on and be watchful.
I pray for the grace of spiritual vigilance. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Sunday Week 16 A: Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43 or 13:24-30]
Grace to you!
Previously, the identity of Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath, who is the justice of God, was explored. Here, I highlight God's justice in Christ as grace to many, including those who were considered outside of the location of saving grace.
The objections and attacks of the Pharisees described in the Gospel of Matthew 12 did not stop the Lord from going about doing good. He continued to heal and show his people the justice and mercy of God, who wants us to have life in abundance (Jn 10:10).
The Lord shows compassion and tenderness to the hungry disciples who needed to eat as they served, even on a Sabbath (Mt 12:1-8). He brings healing to a man with a shriveled hand in the Synagogue (Mt 12:9-14). This, too, happened on a Sabbath.
Many of the audience who were Pharisees were watching to see what Jesus would do. They were daring goodness itself to see if he will be himself. It is like the enemy of righteousness, daring us not to act righteously.
It is paradoxical, isn't it, that people would want us to become who we are not simply because they want us to follow unjust rules they made. When it comes to matters of heavenly grace—truth, goodness, and the order of things the way ordained by God, our Lord Jesus does not hold back from doing his Father's work.
His presence is the justice of God. His ways are right and just. He does not ignore the pains of his people who cry to him.
He went along and did the miracle anyway. No naysayer would stop the Lord. No threat would stop goodness and truth and beauty from breaking forth into lives and renewing things.
Imagine a group of people who claimed a puritan commitment to the Divine Law. Yet, they are ready to commit a willful homicide. They choose the letter of the Law over human life. It is just like a fundamentalist approach to religion. It is an evil fanaticism, which is ready to commit murder and violence in the name of religion.
When such happens, then be sure that the true God is not in that place. Never will God be part of the murder of anyone.
As the Lord Jesus goes about doing good and changing the human ways of doing things, he stirs the water of those settled in their way. He equally opens the oasis of his grace to those who are yet to find hope. When the Lord of the Sabbath is pushed out of his Sabbath, what is left is fruitless toil. Meanwhile, those who never had a chance welcome the true Sabbath in their homes and find grace.
We read that Jesus withdrew from the scenario of those planning to murder him. He blessed the stifled spirit of nations and people who need a Savior. Those who followed him to the solitude of grace received healing along the way also (Mt 12:15).
Another big lesson. The better place to be is where the Lord is. The safest anchor is not with princes and kings and security of political and economic prowess. It is anchoring in the Lord for where the Lord is, in solitude or the busy streets of life, there is incredible healing and peace.
We read how his withdrawal to a different location was a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. It is about the suffering servant who, anointed, proclaims justice to those considered outside the radius of saving grace—Gentiles (cf Mt 12:18).
“He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory” (Mt 12:20), meaning those already bruised by sin will receive the righteousness of God in Christ. For “in his name will the Gentiles hope” (Mt 12:21), meaning all nations have in Christ the answer we search and the hope of saving grace we long.
I pray that we be on the side of God in Christ. There is the safest place to be. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
[Saturday Week 15: MI 2:1-5; Mt 12:14-21]
Grace to you!
We continue on a previous line of thought. We saw how the Lord lifts our burden of sin and invigorates us through the Law of grace, new life in him. Here, I hint on how the Lord's liberating grace extends to the regulations that relate to things of worship, a sacred day.
We read the encounter between the Blessed Lord Jesus, his disciples, and some Pharisees (Mt 12:1-8). The Lord’s disciples were hungry and began to pluck and eat available heads of grains where they were.
The above incident may not relate to an average reader today since most do not live under such rules. However, it may be appropriate to hint at some of its implications.
Jones (1953) suggests that there were thirty-nine works which a practicing Jew was forbidden to undertake on the Sabbath. Among them included reaping and threshing of grains. But later, some rabbinic tradition included plucking the ears of grains as reaping, so also robbing them between the hands.
You observe that once one lives one's life based on legal specifications, it would be the most stressful life. There are always new laws to add as new events happen. The number of Positive Laws is endless insofar as we live in a world of time and change.
We have not remembered our car title number or, worse, the VIN, let alone remembering all the Law's fine details.
You see, living by the Law means continuously learning and relearning. I teach digital media, and I can tell you that studying the legal aspect of the media and digital ecosystem alone can drive anyone crazy. So, it is with other disciplines. No persons, no matter how smart they may be, could live their lives in such a situation and still have peace.
The Lord has a way of taking the distractions that come by the way we like to follow the Law and draw us to the Law's spirit. "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” (Mk 2:27), says the Lord. We are to serve the Lord with all our minds and heart, equipped by his grace. We need that day of rest to praise the Lord as well as bring serenity to the over-laboring soul.
But there is much higher Law, the Law of love and mercy. It is the Law that we celebrate every Sunday and every day when we come to church. We unite with the Lord Jesus, who (out of love) made himself our sacrifice and our praise. We bond with the Lord, who is rich in mercy and compassion. We celebrate and are renewed to go out and renew others with the grace we receive from him, who is “the Lord of the Sabbath” (Mt 12:8).
Those who live with Christ live in true peace and freedom and go in and out as those whose lives are more renewed than any positive law could grant.
Here is the excellent news for a true believer. In Christ, we live the true spirit of the Law and not the letters. In Christ, we have our Sabbath, and this Sabbath lives on until the Eternal Rest.
My Lord and God, grant me the grace of living, following the Law of grace and love. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday Week 15: Is 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8; Mt 12:1-8]
 A. Jones, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St Matthew,” in A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, ed. Bernard Orchard and Edmund F. Sutcliffe (Toronto; New York; Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1953), 872
Grace to you!
Relationships have an element of reciprocity. Though the object of that reciprocity may vary, there is a fair expectation of it.
Let me use simple job training as an example. You landed a new job. The management walks you through some procedures and training. The onboarding and training to get you going costs management some resources. Suppose at the end of the training, despite the investment so you will perform optimally, you didn't improve the necessary skills for the job. What would likely be the result?
Unless the job belongs to your family and your family doesn't care about the consequences, I don't think you would retain it. If for some reason you do, the organization may be negatively impacted. The expectation at the end of your training is a reciprocal expectation.
Let me use another example. You started a small business with a family member or a close friend. Two of you were the best of friends. You and your partner researched the relevant laws concerning the company and were adequately informed about the expectations. The business started well. It became very successful. Unfortunately, your partner decided to ignore crucial policies and procedures. It was his choice.
Thus, the company's books weren't adding up. You could smell a rat, not only concerning some in-house mismanagement, but the state's laws are violated. The consequences would be grave for both of you and the entire business if the culprit weren't held accountable for the gross, unethical actions. What would you do?
Ignore it? Demand accountability? Isn’t it clear that the baseline expectation underlying your dilemma in handling this problem is an expectation of reciprocity?
I see this all the time as a priest ministering to the pastoral and spiritual needs of people. Many are gravely hurt if a friend's fair expectation of reciprocity isn't met. Though people generally aren't perfect in keeping their side of each relationship, a reasonable expectation is taken for granted.
May we apply this analogy, partly and carefully, in the understanding of judgment. Some people don't want to hear anything about divine judgment, though they wouldn't mind watching a movie on cataclysmic Judgment. Nonetheless, judgment, divine judgment, could be seen in the light of reciprocity.
If you suppose that judgment is when God calls us and punishes us for the wrongs we have done, you most probably miss the point. Instead, judgment is when our choices move us in the opposite direction of divine blessedness. It is us who choose the road to perdition. The choice is ours. God does not choose for us. The Lord once said, "Not one was lost except the one who chose to be lost…" (Jn 17:12).
The expectation of reciprocity is that, generally, people move towards what is their preference, and each has a reciprocal consequence. Not making use of our blessings is choosing to appear unblessed, just as there is a thin line between lack of love and hate. Some choose love, others the opposite of love—hate.
The Blessed Lord Jesus condemned the unrepentant people of three cities in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 11:20-24. The cities—Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum—were wealthy and influential. The Lord Jesus walked, worked, and did many miracles revealing his identity among them. Yet, they didn't believe in him. The expectation of reciprocal gratitude was lacking. It's like rebuffing a handshake. Never rebuff a handshake.
Heaven is for those who return love for love and offer love for hate. It’s the home of those who welcome a handshake of Divine Grace and Revelation. Heaven is when, despite our limitations, we show how grateful we are of our blessings. A state of mind with this disposition of gratitude fears no judgment nor sees it as agonizing.
Keep this in mind, at least for today. God's expectation isn't a give-and-take that benefits God, but a response that makes us better for it. The law of reciprocity, in this sense, is part of our success story. It's our choice. Heaven is our choice. So also, hell. God wouldn't force either on us. Moreover, the claim that hell is spurious does not change the reality of divine judgment. We get what we choose.
I pray we reciprocate love for love. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday, Week 15, Ordinary Time: Is 7:1-9; Matthew 11:20-24]
Grace to you!
I reflect on the liberating power which the Blessed Lord Jesus gives.
Many of us have pet ideas or projects. They tend to be fun and get us excited. We get going in such a way they engross us. One can be so engrossed that it becomes a spiritually, unhealthy attachment.
The above can relate to passion too. Passion is good. Loving something to commit everything to it is lovely. But it can also block one from seeing.
Habit does the same thing to us as well. Our habits become so natural to us, our defaults, that it is difficult to adjust or see a better light.
Those who inherited employees who have been doing things one particular way know how difficult it could be to make them see things in another light. They have been doing things their way for decades. It may not be working at the current standards of things, but to convince them of the need to look at it differently would be a Herculian task. Change is one of the most challenging things anyone could accept.
One can be so vested in something that it becomes a semi-god. We may not create altars and worship it physically, but we sort of adore it in our hearts as our haven. Then when Christ ministers, it is difficult to take in the fresh light of the Spirit.
We read the great message from Zechariah's prophecy. It talks about the coming of the Messiah and his triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Zec 9:9-10). We read how the Messiah will come. He will be riding on a colt and with the comportment of meekness, which here relates to humility (as some translations have used it). He comes and rides not the horses and chariots of war (as a kingly warrior, though he is one), but on the normal colt which everyone—king and ordinary people on the street—ride. He is a humble and meek Messiah whose message is shalom to the world. He is Christ the Lord, our peace.
If he comes in this manner, it is a humble heart that will receive him. It is a heart not burdened by loads of our old habits and ego. It is a heart ready to weed out those encumbrances that weigh the spirit down and embrace the freeing power of the Gospel of Christ and the Spirit. Such a person flies on the wings of the Divine Lord.
In addition to the burden of habits that do not allow us to humble openness to Christ's ways, there are other burdens. One is the burden of sin. Any sin leaves us with some mass of toxic spiritual lead that weighs our spirit down and poisons. Sometimes they cause us sleepless nights depending on their gravity. That we suppressed the feelings does not mean they are gone. They are there, piling up until we cry for help. Otherwise, we are weakened from flying as the Lord wishes for us. The Lord lifts us. He rejoices to see that we receive the revelation that he is here, lifting us and saving us from this burden of sin. The Lord rejoices because we understood Divine Saving Grace in him, Christ (Mt 11:25-27).
Embracing the Lord in humble acknowledgment and confession takes away these burdens. True freedom from the burden of sin is from the Spirit of Christ, which gives life to our bodies through his Spirit that abides in us (Rm 8:11). Such lifts us from the burden of sin.
There are these other burdens too. Each day, life's changes could add to our burden. They could be aging, career changes, joblessness, immediate threats to life, poverty, personal and structural injustice, cultural and political pressures. They could also be a feeling of rejection, lack of sense of worth, insecurity, hopelessness, etc. These could pile in our hearts and weigh us down. We carry their worries on our shoulders. Become worriers. When we do, they take the joy of the Lord from us.
All of these are too much weight to carry. Some of them aren't even worth giving them space in your life. You deserve better. It calls for humility to receive what the Lord brings. Such a humility equips us to approach life with the heart of a child, who is so detached and open for freshness, a new way, Christ's way.
Here is what happens when we embrace Christ's way. The old burdens, the stressful toil from fruitless ventures, will give way to something much more valuable. That value springs from faith, animated by the grace Christ is and provides.
What Christ gives us knocks off the burden we have carried upon ourselves. As Saint Augustine says, “they give us wings” (Sermon, 126),and we can fly like a bird because such do not pull us down, they raise us to glory.
Lord, give us the rest in you and lift all the burdens in our hearts. Fill us with the joy of your presence. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[14th Sunday Ordinary Time A: Zec 9:9-10; Rom 8: 9, 11-13:7-10; Mt 11:25-30]
 Augustin, Sermons, 126 in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 95.
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.