for the fourteenth Sunday of the Year
Zech 9:9-10 - Rom 8:9 & 11-13 - Mt 11:25-30
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
He bears the Spirit
[Preliminary note: the first reading is cited in part in Mt 21:5, read on Palm Sunday; the second reading is read in part on the fifth Sunday of Lent; the gospel is read in its entirety on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.]
Zech 9:9, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass. 10, I will cut off the chariot from E'phraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
This Sunday, all the readings speak to us of Christ and of his Spirit. Zechariah, in the first reading, invites us to rejoice and to cry out with joy! Why? Because the Messiah, the Great King, enters Jerusalem: He who bears the Spirit and who rejoices in the Holy Spirit enters the Holy City, thus bringing that joy which is his own, but which he fully intends to share with all who welcome him! Certainly, the Messiah enters his City, he triumphs, he bursts with joy, but nonetheless in all humility: he is victorious! "Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass." (Zech 9:9)
Zechariah lived toward the end of the sixth century before Jesus Christ, but it seems that the text we read today is more recent and is thus attributable to another author. Whatever the case may be, it is the same spirit that animates all of the prophecy of the book of Zechariah: an encouragement to bring about the reconstruction of the Temple of Jerusalem! It was in the year 516 before our era, or 70 years after the destruction of the first Temple, that the second Temple was completed.
In the messianic and Christian perspective, the Temple of Jerusalem is a figure of the mystical Body of Christ, of which Christ himself is the Head and the perfect Image: "Jesus answered them, «Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.» The Jews then said, «It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?» But he spoke of the temple of his body." (Jn 2:19-21)
Fully oriented toward the exaltation of the Glory of God manifested in his Temple, the prophecy of Zechariah announces the Resurrection of Christ and that of all men, temples of God and of the Holy Spirit; it thus announces the second coming of Christ, already anticipated during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday! "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!" (Zech 9:9)
Rom 8:9 & 11-13
Rom 8:9, But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 11, If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. 12, So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh -- 13, for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?" (1 Cor 6:19) While God once used to manifest his presence in the Temple of Jerusalem (cf. 1 Kings 8:10-11), today Christ leaves us the gift of his Holy Spirit, who is at once God and the Gift of God: "Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." (Rom 8:9)
If, by the grace of God, and by means of faith, we were to turn ourselves away from creatures, and first among them ourselves, in order to turn towards God, our Creator and Master, then through Love, and in Love, the Holy Spirit would come to live in our soul. Then we would no longer live solely a human and natural life, but also of the very Life of God offered for our participation in the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
This double Life, human and divine, far from being optional and born of the human imagination, is rooted in Man himself, as God conceived him and wanted him to be when he created him (cf. Gen 2:7). This is even more true ever since the Lord, through his resurrection from the dead, recreated man by giving him his Holy Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, during the wait for the final Resurrection!
Mt 11:25, At that time Jesus declared, «I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; 26, yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 27, All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29, Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30, For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.»
If we want to live in the Holy Spirit, and to banish far away from us all life according to the flesh; if we don't want the warning of Saint Paul to apply to us, when he said, "if you live according to the flesh you will die" (Rom 8:13); then let us be the way we must be in order to receive from God knowledge of his Mystery: like the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, let us be humble. "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes." (Mt 11:25)
Mary had very great humility, great enough for her to believe that, thanks to divine intervention, she would remain a Virgin, and yet also become the Mother of the Son of God according to the flesh. Mary had the humility necessary to also believe that the Holy Spirit would become forever her divine Spouse, thus receiving from him a share in the very Life of God.
And us? How deep is our humility? Jesus is the Man who is also, and first, God. Do we truly believe it? Jesus loves us so much that he wants to give us his divine Life so that we might share in it. Do we have enough humility to want the Life of God more than our own human life? Let us pray to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary!