14th Sunday of the Year Zech 9:9-10; Rom 8:9 & 11-13; Mt 11:25-30 (Year A)
‘Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem! See now, your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The language with which the prophet Zechariah foretold Christ’s messianic kingdom is intriguing to the point of paradox. Victory and triumph anticipated the power of Christ’s Resurrection reaching to the ends of the earth. The humility of a Messiah riding to victory on the foal of a donkey fundamentally questioned the traditional trappings of power. If we are to follow in the footsteps of Christ, if we are to know the saving power of his Resurrection, we must share his humility.
St Paul, writing to the Romans, takes us to the fundamentals of the Christian life: “Your interests are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you.”
Paul’s contrast of the spiritual and unspiritual self is not a crass dichotomy between body and soul. Rather, it is a reflection on the conflicting attitudes that dominate our lives. What Paul describes as the unspiritual self is the sinful tendency to be ruled by selfishness. The spiritual self, on the other hand, surrenders itself to communion with the Lord and with each other.
Paul realised that we cannot overcome the selfish, unspiritual self alone. He rejoiced that in Christ’s Resurrection, and in the gift of his Spirit, we are freed from the tyranny of self. “In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him, and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.”
We were created for selfless love, and in Christ the secret of that love is revealed: “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.”
To Christ we bring our burden of sin and disappointed hope. He invites us to rest in his presence, to learn from his humility. What Paul had described as the unspiritual self surrenders itself to his presence, and in so doing is embraced by the healing love for which it had always longed.