Jesus as King of Peace 14th Sunday Ordinary Time (A)
Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30
The first reading from the prophet Zechariah prophecies about a future king who will banish war weapons, “proclaim peace to the nations”, and establish a universal kingdom that will extend “from sea to sea”.
When this king ushers in this new Kingdom he will ride into Jerusalem not in a war chariot pulled by strong horses but rather will ride into Jerusalem meekly on a donkey. Shortly before his Passion, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.
Today’s gospel passage does not describe Jesus’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Instead, in the gospel passage Jesus identifies himself with a work animal that is similar to the donkey. Jesus identifies himself with an ox. He does so in telling us to, “take my yoke upon you and learn from me”. Brant Pitre comments that the yoke Jesus is referring to would be placed on the shoulders of two oxen who together pulled a plow through a field.
In the comparison, we are one of the oxen, while Jesus is the other ox who helps us in our work of plowing a field. Another animal that Jesus identifies with is a lamb. Upon seeing Jesus, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29 RSVCE).” In a vision that John has in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, Jesus appears once again as a lamb, but which is first introduced as conquering “Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5 RSVCE)”.
As John waits for the Lion of Judah to appear he sees instead a “Lamb standing, as though it had been slain (Revelation 5:6 RSVCE)”. Then, John hears countless angels singing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (Revelation 5:12 RSVCE).”
The related Scripture passages that we just reflected on compared Jesus to a warrior king, to an ox, to a lamb and to a lion. Jesus fulfills each image in a surprising way. Jesus fulfills his role as a conquering warrior king by not taking life but rather by offering his life for all. The weapons Jesus uses to conquer us are forgiveness and mercy. Jesus fulfills the role of an oxen as Immanuel, as God with us who walks with us as our friend.
As our friend, Jesus suffers with us and in doing so lightens our suffering. He does not ordinarily take away our suffering. Rather, Jesus transforms the suffering by offering to walk with us in our trials and tribulations with his patient, kind, lightening presence.
Jesus fulfills the role of a gentle lamb by not returning violence with violence, but rather by condemning violence done to him with, “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me? (John 18:23 RSVCE).”
After condemning the violence, Jesus does not return the abusive action but rather allows himself to be slain as an innocent lamb. Jesus also fulfills the role of lion, of the lion of Judah, by fiercely defending the holiness of his Father’s house, the Temple, meant to be a place of prayer for all people. He does so by overturning tables and chasing away people overly intent on making money in a sacred place.
Jesus help us to understand the great mystery you are. As mystery you challenge all our limited perceptions of you. You are both a gentle Lamb of God and you are the bold, powerful, Lion of Judah. You are a conquering warrior king but one who rides meekly on a donkey offering your peace. God Bless – Fr Peter
Theme from Schindler’s List – Violin Part John Williams
Cgoodwin / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), “Bow yokes on a bullock team,” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bullock_yokes.jpg.
en:User:Cameltrader / Public domain, “Emblem of Jerusalem,” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emblem_of_Jerusalem.svg.
Kevin Pluck / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), “Lion (Panthera leo) lying down in Namibia. Photographer’s comment: ‘[I was] standing on a viewing platform about 25m away. He wasn’t doing much at all other than looking regal. There where [sic] some lionesses down below growling and pacing but they were in the shade so I didn’t get very good pictures of them. […] They were from Okinjima AfriCat foundation who look after injured or orphaned cats until they can be returned to the wild. They also educate farmers on practices on how to raise stock with large cats.’” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lion_waiting_in_Namibia.jpg.
© Nevit Dilmen / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), “Lamb,” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lamb_09807-a.jpg.
Francisco de Zurbarán / Public domain, “Agnus Dei c. 1635-1640, by Francisco de Zurbarán, Prado Museum,” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Francisco_de_Zurbar%C3%A1n_006.jpg.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Melkite-Christ-the-King.jpg, “Stained glass window at the Annunciation Melkite Catholic Cathedral in Roslindale, Massachusetts, depicting Christ the King in the regalia of a Byzantine emperor,” https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b4/Melkite-Christ-the-King.jpg.
 Brant Pitre, “14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A),” catholicproductions.com.
 In Genesis 49:9, shortly before dying, Jacob blesses his sons. When he blesses Judah, he calls Judah a lion. The lion then became a symbol for the tribe of Judah.