Fr Adrian's Homily
Year A 2020
Fr Adrian Farrelly
Reflection Fr Adrian
At the top of a replica crucifix are four letters: INRI. They are the initial letters of four Latin words: Iesus Nazarensis Rex Iudaeorum – Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews. At different times in his ministry the crowds wanted to proclaim him king and, with him in the lead, they would rid their country of the Roman overlords. He always refused to cooperate. Only with the Roman governor, Pilate, did he admit he was a king with the authority to call legions of angels to his defence. The leaders of his people objected to the wording of the crime by Pilate and fixed to the cross. The early church avoided the title to minimise the chance of persecution by the Roman authorities.
Yet the association with kings is anchored in what Jesus himself proclaimed as “good news”. What is this news that is good? The kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven (both expressions he uses) is near.
This kingdom he spoke of was not a place but a relationship. The relationship was between God and the one who accepted as true what Jesus said. This relationship is available to every member of the human family. God offers this freely. To make it a personal reality, all any of us need to do is accept it. Repent is the word Jesus uses for this act of acceptance. Change the way you think.
In the prayer he prays in today’s selection from Matthew’s gospel, Jesus blesses God for revealing to mere children the reality of God’s love. In the prayer, he speaks of God hiding this from the learned and clever. God is not being nasty to the learned and the clever. God wants the learned and the clever to acknowledge this foundational relationship, but knows that their sense of self-sufficiency, born of their learning and cleverness, hinders them from putting aside their own ideas and judgments about what is important in life to accept the basically simple message which is the good news.
As we pray the Lord’s prayer we ask that God’s kingdom will come, that the Father’s will, will be done. Jesus admitted to Pilate that he was a king, but not one who would coerce submission. Zechariah, the prophet, pictures the coming of a victorious king. However, not for the prophet a mighty war horse or chariot, but a small beast of burden, a foal the colt of a donkey. This king is humble but changes the war mongers to peace creators.
The evangelists picture the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the same way as Zechariah. Jesus, as king, comes as a witness to the truth: about life, death, human dignity, gentleness and humility. He comes humbly. His words echo down the ages: I came to serve not to be served and give my life as a ransom for many. This world’s kings and rulers lord it over others and make their authority felt, this is not to happen to you. The history of the church testifies how often this teaching was ignored within the church, but it is still the way into the kingdom gifted us by God and which is ours if we open our hands and accept it.
At baptism we became shepherd kings. Our attitude as we begin to live this week: rejoice, heartily. Shout for joy. God’s kingdom is there within.