14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Zech 9: 9-10Matt 11: 25-30
July 5, 1987
Holy Cross, Fairfield, Conn.
One from the archives, since I had no preaching responsibility this weekend.
“See, your king shall come to you” (Zech 9:9).
When we heard the 1st reading, we probably thought right away of Palm Sunday. And of course we’re right. Jesus may well have modeled his behavior on this prophecy of Zechariah.
Zechariah prophesied after Israel returned from the Babylonian exile. Israel had no king in those centuries but was part of the Persian empire and then of the Greek empire. The Jews longed for independence, for peace and prosperity, for the good old days of King David.
A number of times God had promised the Jews a messiah, someone from David’s line, who would inaugurate God’s reign on earth, the final age of mankind, and the return to the way things were in the Garden of Eden.
In this passage Zechariah is promising the coming of the messiah, God’s anointed one. “See, your king shall come to you.” He’ll come to Jerusalem, the city of David; he’s to be David’s successor, a direct descendent of that great and holy king.
“A just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass.” If he is to be a true and godly king, he must be just. Without justice, there can be no peace within the nation, no peace between the nations. He must be meek, for he’s the people’s leader and protector, a god-image; he puts them and not himself first.
He rides an ass because he comes on peace. A warrior king mounts a horse or chariot. Indeed, the next verse of the prophecy is entirely about banishing chariots and bows, proclaiming universal peace. And his rule, his peace, his justice, will be universal.
All of this—the restoration of David’s throne, a meek and just king, universal peace —is cause for joy. Daughter Zion, i.e., Jerusalem and the Jewish nation are told to rejoice heartily, to shout for joy.
The gospel complements or rounds out Zechariah’s prophecy. Jesus, a direct descendent of King David, describes himself as “gentle and humble of heart.” He offers us refreshment, which is another way of saying justice, peace, and security. In the fashion of authentic kinship, he shares the burdens of his people.
On this Independence Day weekend, certainly we could talk about the kind of leadership our nation needs to fulfill the role that a provident God has given to us.
Or we could comment upon the Church as the image of the messianic king, how the Church must foster universal peace and justice.
Or we could bring Zechariah’s message from God to our homes. In our homes, if our homes are to be Christian homes, the authority we exercise has to be messianic authority. Messiah means “anointed”; it means “Christ.” All of us are anointed as images of Christ, Christians. So our manners of governing our households must be Christlike.
I won’t start considering who wears the pants in the family or who’s the boss. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that family or household authority be like the authority of Zechariah’s messiah, of Matthew’s Jesus: just, meek, and peaceable; burden-sharing, refreshing, gentle, and humble.