My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
So yesterday we celebrated the founding of our country, and the beautiful promise that America will be one nation under God, a land of freedom, equality, and opportunity for all people — no matter where they came from, or the color of their skin.
Also, this past week, on Wednesday, July 1st, we celebrated the memorial of St. Junípero Serra, who is, as Pope Francis said, one of the founding fathers of our country. And as you probably know, I wrote a little letter about our saint and offered some spiritual reflections. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at it it’s still there on the LA Catholics webpage.
There is a beautiful example of a missionary disciples and a faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ in Junípero Serra, Let’s pray to him in these challenge times that we are living.
So today, we keep praying today for our country, especially in this time when we are confronting the ongoing sin of racism. We pray today for healing and reconciliation, a new birth of solidarity and charity, and a new awareness of what it means that we are all created as children of God.
As in our Gospel today, Jesus reminds of that beautiful truth. He says:
I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
What a beautiful way of Jesus talking to us. I think it’s a beautiful image that we should reflect on. We are God’s “little ones.” His little children. Each one of us.
Jesus knows that we are burdened, that we are weighed down by the circumstances in our lives, by all the pressures and responsibilities we have in our lives.
Of course, right now, we see that all around us in our society. The suffering of so many people from the coronavirus pandemic. The economic challenges that many people are facing, the challenges of discrimination and unequal treatment.
Jesus knows what we are going through, and his heart is open with compassion to all of us, to every single person.
So today, my dear brothers and sisters, Jesus is inviting each of us to take all our problems and worries to him
“Come to me … and I will give you rest,” Jesus says to us in today’s Gospel.
If we want to find peace, we need to draw near to Jesus and stay close to him. And we need to imitate him, we need to learn from his example. He tells us today in the Gospel:
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
My brothers and sisters, living like Jesus is the only way to true happiness. And what he is telling us today is that if we want that peace in our lives, if we want true happiness, then we need to follow him in being meek and humble.
As we know, this teaching doesn’t seem to make sense nowadays.
In our current society, meekness means weakness. Humility is not a virtue that is popular in our society.
But God’s ways are not our ways. The wisdom of the world is not the wisdom of God, it is not the wisdom of the Cross.
God’s power is different from the world’s power. God does not save the world by aggression or force. Jesus came into this world little and unnoticed, he was a tiny baby who was laid in a manger. He was crucified and died in weakness.
Yet his love was stronger than any force in the world, his love changed the whole world. So his Kingdom is won by gentleness and love. We heard that in the first reading today. The prophet Zechariah tells us that a new King is coming:
See, your king shall come to you;
a just savior is he,
meek … and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.
Jesus is that King! Jesus is that meek and just savior. And he calls us today to come to him and to follow him and to learn from him.
Meekness and humility mean entrusting ourselves to the will of God. It means accepting that he has a plan for your life. Even when it’s hard to see that plan, hard to understand what God is doing in our lives or in our world.
So today, let us especially ask for the grace to give our hearts to Jesus. A heart that is humble, a heart that is meek.
Maybe we can just pray everyday the beautiful prayer of St. Junípero Serra.
Help us begin to live a holy life,
With a burning love and zeal of the salvation of our neighbors.
Make us more gentle, more calm, more nurturing and strong.
Beautiful prayer asking God the grace to be just like Jesus.
Then, just like Jesus did, we need to open our hearts to every one — to feel compassion for their pain, to try to understand what’s going on in their lives. To really be ‘out there’ to serve our brothers and sisters.
Because as disciples of Jesus, we need to think of others first. We need to look for ways to help other people. We have to feel the responsibility for one another. We need to bring Christ’s compassion, his love and mercy, into all our relationships.
So, let us keep in mind and be thinking about that we are walking with Jesus and he is leading us on a way of conversion — from the people we are today to the people that he wants us to be.
Let’s work this coming week, especially, on strengthening our closeness with our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us have try more meekness and more humility and be like Jesus.
So let’s ask the Holy Spirit today to strengthen us and to help us to be meek and humble of heart, as Jesus was. Let us ask him to help us to follow the path of love, the path of kindness and tenderness toward the people in our lives.
And let us especially keep praying and working for healing and justice in our country.
May our Blessed Mother Mary help all of us to grow in tenderness and to have the heart of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Readings: Zec. 9:9-10; Ps. 145: 1-2, 8-11, 13-14; Rom 8:9, 11-13; Matt. 11-25-30.