Word Alive: Lo, your king comes to you

Lawrence Laffont

July 3, 2020
Detail of Entry of Christ into Jerusalem by Pietro Lorenzetti (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Lo, your king comes to you

A reflection for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

by Lawrence Laffont

 
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
– Zechariah 9:9
 
Reading the above I couldn’t help but do a double take to ensure it was in fact the first reading for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time and not Palm Sunday.
At the beginning of Palm Sunday Mass and prior to the procession of palms, we hear a reading from the Gospel of Matthew (21:1-11) which details Jesus’ instructions to untie the donkey and colt and bring them to him for “the master has need of them”, and then it quotes the above from the prophet Zechariah as a fulfillment of what had been spoken (Matthew 21:4).
How does the Christ enter Jerusalem that day? Triumphant. Victorious.
Building upon these adjectives, Zechariah, whose name may be translated from Hebrew as “God has remembered us”, describes this king even further as a “warrior” who shall “command peace to the nations” and who shall have “dominion… from sea to sea” and “to the ends of the earth”.
Clearly, this is someone who is of great power and worthy of praise and admiration.
Yet at the same time, the prophet also describes him as humble.
And this humility is demonstrated through action in the first section of the verse: “Lo, your king comes to you.”
Despite being a warrior who commands and has dominion over all the land, the king comes to us!
This is an important reminder for when difficulties arise in our lives.
One only needs to check the headlines from any news outlet to see there is no shortage of challenges today. Pandemic? Present! Civic unrest and injustice? Check!  Financial strain combined with unemployment for families? Got that too!
But as we read in this Sunday’s Gospel, even in our most desolate times, Jesus proposes: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
This does not mean our lives will be free of hurt or pain.
But we can trust that God will be with us. He is “triumphant”, “victorious”, and he will “give us rest”. This sentiment is echoed in the Psalm for this Sunday: “The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:13-14).
And given that God is with us and our king has come to us, perhaps there is a lesson in this Sunday’s text that shows how we should respond to our trials: “Rejoice greatly” and “shout aloud,” declares Zechariah. And “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever,” proclaims the psalmist (Psalm 145:1-2).
This is not to say that we need to holler joyfully from the rooftop, gleefully dismissing the reality of everyday challenges. But in the face of difficulty, what is the disposition of our heart? Are we filled with a quiet confidence that the Lord holds us in his hands? Or are we wrapped in despair and filled with bitterness towards God because we are struggling?
Depending on the circumstance, maybe it’s a bit of each at one point or another.
Regardless, let’s use the readings this weekend as an opportunity to reflect on our response to trials.
It may prompt you to enter more deeply into prayer and to strengthen your relationship with God. It may inspire you to take up special practices – something as simple as considering five things you are thankful for at the end of each day. This will offer a new perspective of how God is acting in your life and looking after you. It may pierce your heart to make the extra effort to return to the Sacraments, after suffering through the desert of a pandemic, so that you can be closer to the one who gives you rest. It may also remind you that God wants to be active in your life, that in humility, he comes to you, triumphant and victorious.
How do you respond?

The readings for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, are
Zechariah 9:9-10
Romans 8:9, 11-13
Matthew 11:25-30


Lawrence Laffont is a father and husband who calls western Canada home. When he's not picking wild roses and appreciating the beauty of God's creation around him, he's sharing the faith with his children, clinging to his Rosary, and plunging into God's vast ocean of mercy.
 
 

Click here for all articles in the Word Alive series