Pastoral Reflections

Pastoral Reflections for Sunday, July 9, 2017
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to come to Him and then tells us that He is “Meek and humble of heart.”  What does that mean, meek and humble of heart?  How can we understand this?  I was turning this over in my mind during the past week, when an image came to me that I witnessed while I lived with my parents, one that I engaged in when I parented my young children, and continue to experience with my young grandchildren. It is no secret that in many families, daddies favor their little girls and mommies dote on their little boys. That having been said, let me set up my scenario.

Growing up in my family of origin we took attending Church together seriously. We would typically walk to church, and when we children got tired, our parents would take turns carrying us in their arms.  Later, as I married and had my own family, I recall showing up for Mass and getting our tribe of seven kids in line for entry into our pew.  I was the largest / tallest member of the family. As I looked around me in church, there were other fathers, some bigger than me.  I would marvel as we moms and dads singularly and collectively carried our smallest youngsters into the pews of the church. I would often pleasantly smile when I would see a huge man carrying his one or two-year-old little girl into church. I would take great delight in carrying my young daughters, first my older one, when she was tiny, and then the same with my younger one.  Although they were so petite and I was so big in comparison, they nonetheless each had taken control of me, their dad.  And I was quite happy about it.  I remember one time in conversation with another dad after Mass wherein he said to me, “I have become my little girl’s jungle gym.  I lie on the floor, while she climbs all over me.  Sometimes she slobbers on me, or maybe worse, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”  Based on my observations at the time, I was sure that the toughest man in our parish was but a pussycat when it came to his baby girl.  Dads will be fierce when it comes to protecting their baby daughters, but toward the girls themselves, they are typically meek and mild. 

Moms and dads are also humble of heart. Most of the fathers, or mothers for that matter, never think that they are too lofty or too important to care for their children. From changing diapers to drying tears, good parents are typically meek and not arrogant.  The love for their children won’t let them be anything other than humble of heart. And Jesus said, “Come to me, I am meek and humble of heart.” 

Jesus loves us like good parents love their children.  Only more so, infinitely more so. As moms and dads, there are many times that we feel overwhelmed by the world, and by our many responsibilities. Even our efforts to grow in the most important relationships of our lives; our marriages, our relationships with our children, our friendships with others and our relationship to God, we may often feel stretched beyond capacity. In this day and age, we watch the news, listen to commentaries and witness all we hold dear being mocked and ripped asunder.  We read how our children and teens are being exploited by drugs, alcohol, sex, and the electronic age.  We see images of turmoil in the world, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Russians in the Ukraine, madmen in Korea and Iran, and terrorism everywhere.  We witness all this and often feel that the world is too much for us and our kids.  “Come to me,” the Lord says, “I am meek and humble of heart.”  I know how you feel.  You think the world is falling to pieces and you fear for your family. Entrust them to me, entrust yourself to me.  I will care for you.  I will care for your family.  I am God, but I have not distanced myself from you.  I love you too much to do that.  I am that big man, and you are my little child.  Come to me.”
Many may respond with, “But how can I provide all that my family needs.”  Jesus answers, “I am all that they need,” everything else will fall into place. And we are called to give him our relationships. 

Relationships take a lot of hard work.  Marriages take a lot of hard work as husbands and wives continually sacrifice their own wants, even their own points of view, for the sake of those whom they love so much.  Relationships with people outside of our family take work.  It takes humility to allow other people to be themselves, and not be what we think they should be. 

Our relationship with God takes the greatest amount of work in our lives. Every day is another chance to let Him enter deeper into our lives.  But this means denying ourselves. It means setting more and more time for Him. It means sacrifice when what we really want to do is pull a Jonah and go Southwest when God tells us to go Northeast.  Sometimes we come before the Lord and say, “I can’t seem to get along with anyone, beginning with myself, and including you.”  And Jesus says, “I’ve got you, I’ll teach you how to love.  Just let me hold you, and care for you.  I want to help you.  Come to me, I am meek and humble of heart.”
And the words of our second reading from Romans 8 also encourages us.  We are not in the flesh.  We are in the Spirit.  The Spirit of God dwells in us.  The very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead gives us life. We need to put our trust in God.  He is our hope, our hope not just for the future, but our hope for the present.  Jesus tells us to pick up our crosses and follow him, follow him to Calvary living his sacrificial love, and follow him to the joy of eternal union with God. And just as the strong father, carries his little baby into Church, our Lord carries us into the Father’s eternal Temple, into heaven.  His actions are motivated by love; his love for us, and his love for his Father who told him to bring us to him.  “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.” The One who carries us is strong, stronger than our fears, stronger than our struggles, stronger even than that man who used to carry us into Church. Infinitely stronger.

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