Homily - Homily - 14th Sunday Ord A 2020 - Fr Francis Afu

5 July 2020 

Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 2020

 

Tiempo de lectura aprox: 2 minutos, 22 segundos

My Yoke is Easy

In the past weeks, we have been confronted by two sentences. The first sentence is ‘I cannot breathe’, uttered by an American, George Floyd. And the second is ‘Black life matters.’ Both sentences tell a bitter truth. They tell a story that captures the dark side of our history. The temptation for many is to try and change that history, to redefine it and narrate a perfect story. Unfortunately, we cannot change our past. But we can forge new ways to live with it and grow into our future.

Growth as we all know is one of our characteristics. ‘To live’, Saint John Newman reckons, ‘is to change, to grow. And to be perfect is to change often.’ This sense of growing implies shaking off our scales of bias and prejudice so that our eyes can see clearly, and we can mature. For the indigenous people of Australia, our growth is brought about not by what we see, but by what we hear. There is that call to listen, to listen actively the voice of the spirit, whom we cannot see.  

This spirit Saint John Paul II in 1986 at Alice Spring said has been hovering around our Southern Land for thousands of years. It has been calling on the whole of creation, and indeed humans to be open to the other. The spirit has been inviting the indigenous people to see in creation the goodness of the Unseen Creator. It is the spirit that calls us to open our arms to welcome the other, and treat him or her as a brother, a sister that bears that marks of the Creator.

Listening to this spirit is a testimony of our solidarity with the indigenous people of Australia. It becomes a vista of growth that enable us to forge a new relationship and build a civilisation of honesty and mutual respect. It is by listening to the spirit, who for Christians is the Holy Spirit, that we affirm what Rabbi Johnathan Sacks calls the ‘the dignity of difference.’ For our differences are not our problem. In fact, they are our solution, and our blessing.

We can harness from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that which they have to offer in order to enrich our nation. We cannot go on living in denial of the richness embedded in their culture and story. We cannot turn a blind eye to the wealth of knowledge they have that can change the way we live, relate with the land and nature, and finally worship God. All this is possible when we cultivate a listening ear that is open to accept and hear the other and grow.

This act of listening is a kind of yoke. According to Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri, a yoke in biblical and Jewish tradition is often a metaphor. First, it is a metaphor for God’s commands that helps us to live in a covenant relationship with Him. Second, it is the Wisdom that guides us toward pious and prosperous living. In our context, this wisdom is to listen. And when we listen, we simply say the other matters, he or she can be trusted, and we are ready to change.

In a way, this is the yoke that is easy. It is easy because it brings us together. We cease being the ‘I’ that seeks to justify himself or herself and blame others for his or her troubles and woes. We become the ‘We’ that carries together the joy and the sadness, the beauty, and the ugliness of our common human story. We become the We that hopes, and commits to heal the wounds of the past, and create opportunity for all of us, black, white, coloured to actualise ourselves together.

Notice how Christ in the Gospel reading from Matthew 11:25-30 said that ‘My yoke is easy.’ In other words, it is His yoke. He is doing the listening in us and teaching us how to listen. He wants us to be converted from the ‘I’ of self-seeking to the ‘We’ of togetherness in the Spirit. That is the Spirit that listens first to Him and then cries, Abba, Father; revealing our common sonship and summoning us to say Our Father. And in the Lord’s Prayer we find the path and strength to walk a new journey that will write a new story and give meaning to our history.

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