I find the readings proposed for this Sunday quite disarming, but powerful. And the echo that resonates in mind is Guns down! Moreover, what is most interesting is that often it’s a person in position of power who commands to the defeated ones to down their weapons. It’s the contrary to what I see especially in the First Reading. The powerful and victorious goes unarmed. Isn’t that intriguing? Come on, let’s discover together what this guns down may mean in my life and in yours.
Bible Readings Zachariah 9: 9-10 Psalm 145: 1-2, 8-11, 13-14 Romans 8: 9, 11-13 Matthew 11: 25-30
Lord of armies with guns down!
Let’s look closely at the First Reading. What’s happening in there? The daughter of Zion, meaning Jewish people, is invited to rejoice in her king who comes to liberate her. He brings justice and victory for his people. For the Jewish people who have been at the mercy of powerful nations that defeated them and took them into exile as slaves, they can only imagine a powerful ruler, well-armed, to liberate them. Their hope was in God the Lord of Sabaoth, the Lord of war, who should fight alongside them. No wonder the Day of the Lord, in their imagination, was characterised by events of extraordinary power such as: the sun turning into darkness and the moon into blood (cf. Joel 2:31). Besides, they awaited a messiah who would be politically and militarily powerful. But to their surprise, how does the messiah-king present himself? He has not even ceremonial guards in his company!
When the King of peace is born the choirs of heaven burst into a song of praise, signalising a great event has taken place. But when you look at the newly born Prince of peace –deception! You see only a fragile baby, born in very poor conditions.
And when he would later enter Jerusalem a King amidst acclamations of crowds, certainly, you are curious to have glance at him –but it’s just another deception. Unlike other kings who would be riding an imposing horse, he comes on donkey with no sword or shield in his hand. He’s completely unarmed.
That’s the kind of savoir that the daughter of Zion is asked to acclaim his coming. It’s such defenseless king that will establish peace and render useless weapons of war. Isn’t that opposed to what we see in the world and well as in our personal lives?
Apparently, not ready for Guns down!
Think of exaggerated military expenses, even by poor countries! People will die of hunger and hospitals will go without medicines but money for guns and bullets will always be there. This is because we still live under the illusion of thinking that you will assure yourself peace if you have arms. However, if we dare look truth in the eye, we find only the opposite –with arms we fall into worse chaos. It’s true also in our personal lives. We still prefer to carry arms even when we know they only plunge us into a cycle of violence. What kind of arms?
We equip ourselves with different forms of arms, anything that we have at our command in order to silence and crush the other. I want to dress to make others know they are nothing compared to me, I will speak to you in the manner that will leave you feeling you are null –you know nothing! Perhaps I will use my privileged economic situation or my position to rip those who dare raise their heads above mine. In short, we still believe in using arms, whatever the form, against the supposed competitors. Yet, we don’t attain the tranquillity we hope for, rather, we just land into a cycle of violence which calls for more arms.
Come to me
Jesus looks at you, he sees how tired you are, shouldering whatever form of your AK 47. Firstly, he says to you, like he did to Peter: “Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Mt 26:52).
And secondly, he invites you: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. …” (Mt 11:28). He’s inviting you, tired of shouldering heavy weapons in search for peace. You will have peace not by pointing your arm onto your neighbour but matching towards him in the gear of peace –fraternal gesture.
It’s a question of climbing down from the pride of your horse where you live in the illusion of finding peace by dominating others. It’s not the iron rod that will bring peace and discipline in your family; you will only reap fear and dissension. But when you humble yourself and learn to listen, to consult and discuss with others, when you let others to express their views then together you can find a way of peace. In that way, you realise that you don’t need weapons but relations that are humane in order to live in harmony.
Strength of the lowly
But it’s not everyone who is ready to embrace a way of humility to listen and to learn from others. When we act like Pharisees and scribes armed in pride of self-sufficiency the door of listening is completely blocked. It’s only no surprise that they reject Jesus and his message.
Only the lowly people can welcome Jesus’ message because they are able to acknowledge their need to change and to improve something in their lives. It’s because of them that Jesus bursts into a prayer of praise to his father: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” Jesus recognises their openness of heart. These are the people who can build a human society and thereby render weapons of war useless. It’s not the case with the proud and self-concerted. There are always on defensive and not ready to listen, leave alone to change.
Do you think Jesus can burst into another prayer of praise because of you? Are you ready to listen and walk unarmed so that together with him you can build a more human society?
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