Sermon Proper 9A 2017

Gospel of Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Jesus said to the crowd, “To what will I compare this generation? It is

like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed,

you did not mourn.’

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a

demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look,

a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet

wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

At that time Jesus said, “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; yes, Father, for such was your

gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and

no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father

except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,

and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for

I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Disappointment can go both ways. For example, a parent can be

disappointed in their child’s choice of career, while the child can be

disappointed in their parent when not receiving enthusiastic support

about their career choice.

At times, disappointment shrouded Jesus.

He pleased crowds of people when he fed them or healed their

sick. But those same people were disappointed in him, calling Jesus a

drunkard because he gave his attention to those detested by their

religious society. For some, Jesus didn’t fit the mold of a ‘holy man’ by

the company he kept.

And, people weren’t convinced to leave their self-serving attitudes

and behaviors. So, they enjoyed the blessings without accepting

transformation. They ate their fill and then foolishly returned to their

other cravings, judgmental attitudes and exclusionary religious


Jesus was disappointed that people were not positively responding

to him. Is not God’s love compelling? There were times when his

disappointment moved to frustration. I certainly understand, and I’m

sure you do as well.

Jesus offered what he perceived and what we know to be so much

better than anything else; so much kinder, compassionate and loving, so

much more valuable for this world – a profound relationship with the

God of love.

It was difficult and frustrating for him to accept his experience of

people rejecting God’s creativity and refusing to prize God’s love being

made freely accessible.

Jesus used common imagery of his day to emphasize what he

offers in comparison to the abusive interpretations of the Law of Moses

at the hands of the elitist, religious authorities.

A yoke is a heavy harness used to maneuver and control farm

animals, most commonly oxen.

Unlike the heavy yoke the people already wore under the

demanding and judgmental leadership of the Jewish religious

establishment, Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden of demands upon his

followers is light. For with Jesus, life in relationship with God is all

about receiving, living and expressing God’s healing, compassionate,

empowering love.

Have you ever wondered why clergy wear a stole as a symbol of

our ordination and ecclesiastical authority?

Every time I place my priest’s stole around my neck, I’m reminded

that I belong to Jesus Christ and my ministry is to be a reflection of

Jesus’ ministry. The stole symbolizes Jesus’ yoke – for I belong to Jesus

and function in his name. And, I pray that Jesus maneuvers me so that

others may be drawn into a deeply meaningful relationship with God and

be forever blessed.

In reality, all of Jesus’ followers wear an invisible yoke. We accept

that we don’t belong to our self – we belong to Christ Jesus and his

Family. And, all of us are called and encouraged to live as Jesus lived,

reflecting God’s love to all we meet.

Some people will receive God’s love poured out through us and

others won’t want it. But like Jesus, we must keep on living it and

sharing it.

There’s no greater power than God’s love. And, there’s no greater

need in our world than the need for God’s healing, compassionate,

empowering love.

For the sake of Jesus, keep living it and sharing it. This brings a

smile to God’s heart and greatly influences the world.