Homilette for Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Exodus 3:13-30; Matthew 11:28-30)

For good reason people do not want to be slaves. African slaves in America often experienced cruel brutality along with arduous labor. Contemporary slavery exploits women and children who become sex objects for rapacious men.

But what if a so-called slavery offers a greater freedom than that of being one’s own master? Might it not then be acceptable? Might we not want to submit ourselves to it? In mind here is not just free will to do what we believe is right but the ability to act with perfection in every situation. This freedom would be the equivalent to act in daily life with the grace of a Nadia Comaneci on the parallel bars or of Van Cliburn at the piano.

In the gospel today Jesus offers such a slavery. He invites us to exchange our inclination to sin for an attachment to himself. He does not use the term “slavery,” of course, but speaks of a “yoke.” In biblical language, however, a yoke -- which fastened oxen together for work in the fields -- is considered a metaphor for slavery. Jesus wants us to leave our sinfulness behind in order to make a firm commitment to him. He will then send us his Holy Spirit to bring us to grace-filled perfection.