14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Today’s readings remind us that while many things in a believer’s life remain the same whether they’re believers or not, the believer also lives those things differently: in meekness and humility of heart.

In today’s First Reading, a prophecy of the Messiah, the Messiah does not come charging in on a huge warhorse; he comes on a lowly beast of burden not “built for speed.” The king is just, but meek. That doesn’t seem enough to do the job. How is he going to banish chariots and archers and establish peace among the nations with so little? The Lord promises this king will not just serve national interests: he will proclaim peace to the nations and reign over them all. He is not ambitious, but selfless and simple. He has a big job to do and he doesn’t tackle it making a lot of noise or mustering a huge army. We know who this Messiah, is and how he brought peace: his meekness, justice, and desire for peace disarmed the world of his time and took it by storm.

In today’s Second Reading Paul gives us an insight into how the Messiah, and his disciples, conquered the world: by turning from the flesh and living the life of the Spirit. The Spirit of the Lord spread and conquered hearts, just as it does today. However, we always face the danger of backsliding, and some don’t live according to the Spirit of God at all, despite the fact that they’ve received the Spirit through faith in Christ and Baptism. It’s the Spirit that teaches us the true cause of woe and war and provides the solution: the desires of the flesh must be conquered. Wars and discord in our world stem from those who strive after the things of the flesh, desires that make them greedy, selfish, and cruel. The true war, at times unseen, is between the flesh and the Spirit. It is still waged by Christians, with victories and defeats, but always with their hope firmly placed in the Lord, who definitively overthrew the things of the flesh.

In today’s Gospel the Lord teaches us that there are things in life to which we’ll be blind if we are not “little” in our aspirations and taught by him how to be meek and humble of heart. Creation was made with the Son in mind, so it is no wonder that the Father would make his Son the key to understanding life’s meaning and purpose. The Son encourages us to learn from him, meek and humble of heart. Without this knowledge, life is much more burdensome than it was meant to be. That’s why in today’s Gospel he assures us that it is not as tough as it seems, and will give us rest from our struggles. If the Spirit of Christ is woven into the fabric of creation, the more we imitate him and try to make his Spirit guide our lives, the easier everything will be, because through peace with Our Lord we’ll also achieve peace with ourselves and with his creation.

The most common misconception about meekness is that it is synonymous with weakness. Did Our Lord seem weak to you? Meekness requires a concerted effort of various virtues. It requires self-mastery which forestalls and checks impulses of anger, so it is related to temperance. It requires tolerance of the failings of others, so it requires patience and fortitude. It calls for forgiveness of injuries and benevolence towards all, so it comes from charity. If you’re still not convinced, try being a little meeker this week and see how much effort it requires.

Readings: Zechariah 9:9–10; Psalm 145:1–2, 8–11, 13–14; Romans 8:9, 11–13; Matthew 11:25–30.