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July 2, 1993     The Message
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2, 1993 The Message Monthly -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana :2( 91 -- Commentary--- A prayer of Jesus: A light burden Gospel cotnmentary for July 4, 1993, Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A: Matthew 11:25-30. The prayer of Jesus in today's gospel is remarkable ill its simi- larity to his prayers in the Gospel .0f John. This is not a prayer ask- lug for anything for himself. It is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Jesus addresses his Father fiw. !lines in this prayer as "Abba," an Intimate term unique to Jesus. St. Paul tells ihe Roman Christians that we, too,'may now use this term for God because we have the Same Spirit, tile Holy Spirit, that lived and Worked in Jesus. We have unity with the Father and the Spirit as Jesus had butours is by adop- tion. Like him we are daughters and sons of God and can address our father in heaven on intimate That is one lesson taught us by this prayer 0f Jesus. In Matthew's translation of Jesus' praw)r into Greek, he describes followers of Jesus in a Word meaning "children" or even "infants." It is SUally translated as "little ones." For Matthew his term means simple, ordinary, uneducated fie in contrast to the educated and the pew- It is these "little ones" whom God seems to t. As always in the "kingdom of roles are reversed. The little ones are d great ones, those with the wisdom born while those great and powerful in the of the world are the truly nneducated. One of the most memorable passages in the gOSpels occurs in this prayer of Jesus: "Come to , /! %i!ii By FATHER DONALD DILGER COLUMNIST me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your'souls. For my yoke is easy and my bur- den is light." These words bring comfort to all who treasure them throughout the history of Chris- tianity. What is Matthew saving to his readers by including these words in the prayer of Jesus? In Matthew's theology or way of thinking Jesus is the supreme teacher and interpreter of the Law of Moses, the Torah. To protect the Law of Moses, or as the current terminology expressed it, "to put a fence around the law," teachers and interpreters of the law had surrounded the law itself with so many and such confusing interpretations that it became al- most impossible to observe the law as inter- preted. Following the lead of Jesus, early Christ- ian interpreters of the Torah tried to cu(through the layers of ancient interpretation and return to core observance, to the spirit of the law. The Law of Moses was often referred to as a yoke. The original meaning of yoke was the tern) used for a bar or flame of wood placed on the shoulders of a team of oxen enabling them to work together to pull a load or plow. The term also developed to describe any burden placed on humans, even spiritual burdens. What early Christians thought of layers of interpretation of Torah or the Law of Moses is best described by Luke in a speech he wrote for Peter: "Why do you tempt God by putting on the neck of the dis- ciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?" Matthew therefore proposes that Jesus' inter- pretation of the law is an easy burden compared to what their ancestors had borne before the coming of Jesus. Thus Jesus taught that it was le- gitimate to do good on the Sabbath, ven if that entailed working. That such an interpretation of this prayer of Jesus is correct is demonstrated by the context into which Matthew has placed it. In the episode that Matthew placed immediately after the prayer, Jesus gives examples from the Torah of how the Sabbath is not profaned by good works, and that showing mercy, (perhaps he means works of mercy) is even better than the sacrifices offered in the temple, and those works of mercy can be done on the Sabbath contrary to the current interpretation of the law. The point is then made by having Jesus cure a man in the synagogue on the Sabbath, or as we might say, "in church on Sunday." The principle of a merciful interpretation of law has far reaching application Is it better to ad- here to a law when it is clear that adherence to such a law defeats the purpose of a greater law'.,' As a man-made law now stands it is necessary in our Church that a celibate priest form or "con- fect" the Eucharist, i.e. we ordain and maintain in the priesthood only celibate men, and the sup- ply of these men is getting very limited. Yet there is a greater taw that demands provision of the Eucharist for the followers of Jesus. "Why should we place on the neck of the disciples a burden which neither our fathers nor we are able to bear? What would Jesus say of this situation? Other readings: Zechariah 9:9-10: Romans 8:9, 11.13. are excerpts from the lulv 18, Excerpts for the weeks ahead, Set/be." Matthew t and what we have the parable of the sower This parable is found in three office, farm, factory or family. What may seem an impossible task: may turn out to be a victory that cluding us, to study the parables sanctifies us and those around us. " them toour own life. for the Synod :in Street rmacy t St., Downtown Waslilngton 254-5141 TRUST" with Allows you to .Icle-Cep laved ones and court osts. include pmper ranMer InUiln a fill In t2 far Sl4.091 8oz 1, New eea T Fs Box 68 Montgomery, Indiana 47558 Donald J. 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