Thursday, July 19, 2012
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light (Matthew 11:30)
“Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Many of Jesus’ listeners knew about hard work. They were used to toiling all day in the hot sun and feeling every muscle in their body ache. They knew what it was like to come home bone-tired, eat a good meal, and just sit down. They appreciated the idea of rest, because they probably didn’t get all that much of it!
But Jesus was talking about spiritual rest. In addition to physical work, many people of his day were laboring under another yoke: the numerous regulations that were not part of divine law but were added on by some of their religious leaders. In their great zeal, some of Israel’s scribes let these regulations obscure their teaching about God’s love. Jesus, however, came to show that following God was not about rules: It was about knowing him and finding peace in his Father!
Even today, we need to be reminded that Jesus wants to give us rest. He wants us to feel free to surrender our “messy” hearts to him and let him care for us. That’s one of the main reasons he gave us the gift of the Mass. Every day, Jesus invites us to his table, where he feeds us on his word and nourishes us with his body and blood. Every day, he asks us to offer him our worries and concerns even as we make our offering of bread and wine. What better place to lay down our burdens than on the altar of sacrifice?
When was the last time you really rested at Mass? You can, you know. Just sit quietly during the readings, close your eyes, and let the words wash over you. During the Eucharistic Prayer, allow images of the heavenly banquet to calm your mind and soothe your soul. Surely Mass is a time for prayer and worship. But it is also a time for receiving: receiving Jesus’ peace, his comfort, and his refreshment. Day after day, he calls out to you: “Come to me. Come to my altar. Let me give you rest!”
“Lord, you know my burdens. Help me to lay them down at your altar, so that I can rest in your presence.”