Homily 14th Sunday Ordinary Time Cycle A July 9, 2017

There’s not much better than a nice summer Gospel that matches the month and the weather. A Gospel of finding rest and light burdens.
We’re not all workaholics. There may be a few among this religious gathering of peace-loving people. Certainly, when you own your own company, we must do our best to make sure it doesn’t fold. That may at times require more time away from family and the other important things of life, and making sure our livelihood doesn’t cease in order to support oneself and one’s family. Such would be a balanced approach to labor and family.
A workaholic, on the other hand, is a person who has little or no awareness they are losing the important things in life, such as family. It sneaks up on them one day. They make excuses, not reasons, to spend crazy amounts of time at labor, saying over and over again that “This is what I have to do.” They have a ridiculously hard time being away from their profession. And an easier time – much easier – being away from a family vacation, with a little bit of rest to recharge some physical and spiritual batteries.
The rest that Jesus talks about giving –“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” – is surely the spiritual rest that every soul needs. Let me put it this way; if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person on the Trinity, felt the need to take time to head up the mountain to pray and recharge for another day of ministry, then every person is in need of the same. Unless we believe that Jesus wasn’t a man’s man, or a woman’s man, and that he was weak in his approach to taking some down time, that the Son of God wasn’t as strong and energetic as we are, then his call to rest is one to be heeded on our behalf. It is spiritual rest he calls his Disciples to, but his call to rest is for the entire person, body and spirit.
Our Lord’s summer call to rest in him doesn’t require all sorts of money and riches that are needed at the best hotels at favorite vacation spots. If I didn’t go to Gettysburg and beyond, spending finances on average hotels and motels, then I would find a less expensive form of resting and reflecting on God’s personal presence and his many wonders in creation.
So, one simple theological point I make about our Lord’s invitation to slow down in him, to chill out in his loving embrace, is the point that has to do with his dominion, his power over all things, his mighty hand that holds all things, his omnipotence. And the verse is right there, hiding in the middle of the Gospel. It’s easy to hear it and bypass it; “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” The world is the Lord’s and all that is in it. We pretend to own things for a brief time, until we die. I guess it makes us feel good that we believe we own things.
I own that car, it’s finally paid off. I own my own house; we burned the mortgage last year without burning down the house. I own that horse that won the Kentucky Derby. I own my own plane, boat, train, and blimp. Would you like a ride in my blimp? In 19th century America, we used to think we owned other people. We pretend to own such things… and people, because one day we’re not gonna have any of it.
But that sunset at the ocean that doesn’t cost anything except a quarter tank of gas to get there; that snow-capped mountain that rises from the earth; that forest full of foliage; those Niagara Falls; we don’t own them. And neither does any country, no matter what they say. God created them; sustains them, and owns them so that we can share in his rest and incredible beauty. Such things are the physical part of what God has handed over to his beloved Son. St. Paul calls Jesus “The firstborn of all creation.” This includes the physical creation that God called forth. Our Lord doesn’t disown anything he created, because he saw that it was very good. And we are to enjoy this dimension of Jesus Christ. We share in his physical beauty of creation. Pope Francis would love this homily.
As we know, however, our Lord’s call to rest in him is by no means limited to the physical. His twofold call for us to rest in him is an invitation into the spiritual world of God’s unconditional love. And that’s where we realize in a personal way his abundant graces that he places before us.
Always the grace of his everlasting mercy. Seeking and accepting his mercy into our lives not only reveals the deepest meaning of the Cross, but also brings us to a place of spiritual rest, a place of confidence that he is for us, and not against us. Way too many folks walk around thinking that God is actually against them. That false belief is a pure contradiction to the meaning of the Cross, which is infinite love.
There is our Lord’s call to rest in his peace and healing. Some of the most peaceful people I’ve met have been close to death. Usually accompanied by some intense suffering, but they’ve crossed the bridge of our Lord’s invitation to rest in him, finding peace in their souls, where suffering and imminent death will actually intensify their peace. Only Christ can give such a gift.
So, our Lord’s dominion and call to rest in him touches our lives in a twofold way. Find some rest in his physical creation. He did a good job when creating it. There’s nothing better than the Original Artist. And be certain to take time to rest in Christ spiritually, where all good things for us have been handed over to him for our benefit.