Home Catechetical Corner Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Christian love is meek and humble, not...

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Christian love is meek and humble, not grandiose or intimidating


Sunday Scripture readings for July 9, 2023, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Zec 9:9-10  Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14  Rom 8:9, 11-13  Mt 11:25-30

Christian love is meek and humble, not grandiose or intimidating

Jesus makes us an invitation that is irresistible:

“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.”

Who would not want that?

The devout Jews of his day were used to difficult yokes and heavy burdens –restrictions, rules, rubrics. But here, he was telling them: my way is different. It isn’t a way to make your shoulders ache and your knees sore. No. It’s a way of mercy. Of renewal. Of compassion. Of love.

Significantly, he tells his listeners, learn from his example, “for I am meek and humble of heart.”

As much as Jesus teaches that his yoke is “easy,” it does come with a catch: humility.

Most of us know that’s not how the world works. All you need to do is scan the headlines on any given morning, and you’ll see that power accrues to the ruthless, the brutish, the arrogant, the proud. The most influential people in the world are rarely the humblest.

But as he did so often, Jesus turned the world’s expectations upside down. What he is saying here is altogether new and, really, radical. He taught those who would become the first Christians that what they would eventually call “The Way” was a way of the small and the meek; he would remind them on the night before he died that the truest model of Christian love wasn’t something noble, grandiose or intimidating. It was, in fact, the image of a humble man with a basin and a towel, who got down on his knees to wash dirt from the feet of his friends.

It was about service. And it still is.

In these summer days of Ordinary Time, we are reminded just how extraordinary the call to living as a Christian really is. We’re reminded, too, of Zechariah’s prophetic words: “Your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass.”

This really goes to the heart of what the Christian life entails. My friend Deacon William Ditewig recently published a book, “Courageous Humility,” that outlines this particular vision for the church as a place of meekness and, yes, humility.

“To love another person and to be loved in return is an act of humility,” he writes, noting that “the bottom line is that the church is humble because our God is humble.” He quotes theologian Richard Gaillardetz, who observed, “Once you’ve begun to imagine a church that makes mistakes, you have the beginning of a humble church.”

In a world consumed by politicians who thump their chests and point their fingers, and civic leaders who rarely admit to mistakes (and some church leaders who aren’t very good at doing that, either), the readings this week are a bracing splash of cold water.

Do we understand what it means to be “meek and humble of heart”? Do we realize that to live in the imitation of Christ means exactly that? Are we willing to do that?

It’s not that hard, Jesus says — but, let’s face it: that doesn’t mean it is easy.

What Jesus is asking doesn’t require superhuman strength. It requires, instead, qualities that could challenge any hard soul — things like meekness and humility, self-denial and sacrifice.

Looked at that way, maybe the defining question is: Are we big enough to become smaller? That is the way to true Christian discipleship.

Jesus, showing us another way of living, shows us also The Way to perfect love. A way to grace. A way to draw ever-closer to the merciful and humble heart of God.

To a weary world, it’s an invitation we’ve been waiting for.

How can we possibly refuse?

Deacon Greg Kandra is an award-winning author and journalist, and creator of the blog, “The Deacon’s Bench.” He serves in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York.

The Dialog provides readers news to your inbox with the Angelus e-newsletter. Sign up here for a free subscription to the Angelus.