Fundamentally, every human person desires lasting happiness and peace. However, in the increasingly hectic and stressful world in which we live, the mental and emotional well-being that we long for is much harder to find. The various psychological techniques offered by society have their place, but they cannot provide us with peace of heart. There is only one who can infinitely and eternally do it for us. He is the humble King-Messiah about whom we read in today’s selection from the prophet Zechariah: “Rejoice heartly, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass…. he shall proclaim peace to the nations.”
Unmistakably, the victorious and meek King who brings peace is the one who declares himself to be “meek and humble of heart” in today`s Gospel, Jesus Christ our Savior. He says: “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.” The “rest” he offers is, first and foremost, the delightful rest of eternal paradise, foreshadowed by the “rest” to be found in the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey (cf. Dt 12:9; Heb 4). But it is also the inner peace that comes from God when we are with him in this life, the peace that calms the mind and heart and that “surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7).
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King who is humble in heart, makes an invitation and tells us how to find true rest for our souls, peace with God here on earth and eternal well-being in Heaven. He says: “Come to me…. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” We learn from him when we imitate his humility. Humility, the mother of all virtues, will enable us take on his yoke which is “easy” and “light.”
Sin, especially arrogance, is a major obstacle to entering into the rest that Christ promises and offers. Some Israelites did not enter God’s place of rest because of their sins (cf. Ps 95:11; Heb 3:7-11). St. Paul warns the Romans in today’s second reading of what sin can do. He says: “we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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.”
Because of the sin of arrogance, Jesus was rejected by the so-called “wise and learned” people of his time. In today’s Gospel, Jesus praises the Father for hiding from them the things that he reveals instead to the “little ones.” What is hidden from the “wise” of this world is the secret of true happiness and eternal rest that can be found in Jesus Christ alone. It is hidden from them because they are too arrogant to accept a meek and humble Messiah. Jesus teaches, therefore, that humility of heart is the necessary condition of entering and enjoying the true rest that he gives.
It is the virtue of humility that helps us imitate the Lord’s own self-emptying charity, so that we can make our own the mind of Christ Jesus (cf. Phil 2:1-11). It is the virtue of humility that helps us shoulder the yoke of Christ by listening to his saving wisdom and keeping the commandments as he has taught them. It is the virtue of humility that frees us to perform acts of charity for the glory of God. It is the virtue of humility that makes us examine our conscience regularly and avail of sacramental Confession, even for everyday faults that are not grave sins. This practice invariably brings us healing from Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit (cf. CCC 1458). It helps us “have the Spirit of Christ” and “belong to him,” as St. Paul tells us. This is how we can find rest for our souls, peace of mind, and true happiness, even in this troubling and burdensome world – when we have the Spirit of Christ. A defining feature of saintly people on earth is that they radiate peace and serenity.
Let us always heed the words of the prophet Zechariah: “Rejoice heartily,” for our humble King comes to us to save us and raise us up. The next verse from this prophecy (not included in today’s reading) proclaims that the King, “by the blood of your covenant” will “free your prisoners from a waterless pit” (Zec 9:11). This remarkable promise is fulfilled in the Passion and Death of our Lord, who has already won for us the holy joy and eternal gladness that come with the gift of salvation. These ideas are all admirably summed up in today’s Collect (Opening Prayer): “O God, who in the abasement of your Son have raised up a fallen world, fill your faithful with holy joy, for on those you have rescued from the slavery to sin you bestow eternal gladness.”
How can the sin of arrogance be an obstacle to enter the true peace the Lord desires for us? What are my inner struggles as I strive to imitate the humility of Jesus? In what ways am I striving to find true peace of soul and mind even in troubling situations?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 19, no. 5. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.