“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
These are among the most beloved and quoted verses in the Bible, because all of us feel burdened and in need of rest.
In their original context, these verses spoke specifically to those burdened by the Jewish law. God gave the law to guide the Jewish people through the moral thickets of life, but teachers and interpreters of the law embellished it until it became a burden for many Jews.
While the original context referred to the burden of the Jewish law, there is nothing in these words to suggest that they should not also extend to our weariness and burdens today.
Most people that we know are carrying heavy burdens these days. Anxieties and fears burden us all. We have fears about our economy. We have fears about the cost of food and petrol. We have fears about the constant rise of home values, which make it impossible for people to afford.
We are anxious about what’s happening to our children. We are anxious about terrorism. We are anxious about our national debt. The list seems both overwhelming and endless.
People are equally trying to stretch out their earnings which never seem to go quite far enough. This presents its own stress. People are working on stressed marriage relationships that they fear are going to break up. People are unemployed or under-employed and are looking for a better job that will give them a reliable and adequate source of income.
Others are waiting for biopsy reports on certain abnormal cells that are growing in their bodies. They are filled with fear that they may have cancer. Others are trying to provide for and shape the characters of their children, who have been so influenced by a mass and social media that is immoral and degrading.
Many parents and grandparents feel they are taken for granted, not appreciated, and that they are simply being used while getting nothing back out of life for what they’ve put into it. This comes with its own pressures.
There are others who have piled on to themselves burdens of self-doubt, self-blame, shame, and guilt and find it difficult to forget and forgive themselves for something that they might have done wrong in the past.
Jesus’ concern for our burdens today is as real as his concern for law-burdened Jews of his day. His promise is also as real. “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Our Lord is telling us today to come to him and to drop the burdens that we carry that are simply too heavy for us to manage. He is telling us to lay our burdens down at his feet. He is telling us that he’ll pick up what we can’t carry and will take the weight for us. He wants us to rest in the grace of his love.
Labouring under many burdens we are here today at Mass, how could we not be attracted to what he offers us? Why is He so ignored by so many who are here this evening and who are not here?
Some of us prefer to look for the solutions to our burdens in the world and without God. At the end of the day, we end up worsening the situation.
Jesus offers us something that can make life essentially beautiful for you and for me. But everything depends upon how close we will let him come to us.
Let us give a thought to his offer and message to us today.