Sunday Gospel reflection – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I will give you Rest

“I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and clever and revealing them to mere children.”  It’s easy to return thanks when things are going well and we are aware of God’s favours but it takes great faith to give thanks when matters are not going smoothly.  The context of today’s Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30) is the sadness Jesus felt when people who witnessed his healing miracles refused to repent.  Yet, at this disappointing moment, Jesus found a reason for giving thanks.  There were other people who took his teaching to heart with childlike trust.  He thanked the Father for these trusting, unsophisticated people.

Come to me

After thanking the Father, Jesus then opened his arms inviting people to come to him.  This is surely one of the most comforting passages of the bible. “Come to me all you who labour and are burdened and I will give you rest.”  His plan is simple.  He takes the example of two  animals harnessed together to pull a heavy load.  Let us share the burden by shouldering this together.  In those days the harness, or yoke, was made of wood.   It was very carefully shaped to the measurements of the animals’ necks and shoulders. If the two pulling the load are out of step the yoke cuts into the shoulders.  But, pull together in harmony and the burden is light.  “Learn from me,” said Jesus.  Come at my pace. “I am gentle and humble of heart.”  Gentleness will not force the pace.  Humility will not seek to dominate.  Come at my pace.  We will share the burden and you will find rest for your soul.

Hand it over

The plan of rehabilitation in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous might well have been developed from the invitation of Jesus.  Step One is the acceptance that there is a problem gone out of control.  There is a burden which can no longer be shouldered alone.  The problem is then handed over to the Higher Power.  “Come to me.  I am gentle and humble of heart.”  The pace set by Jesus is to be gentle and humble of heart.  You too will have to be gentle with yourself in dealing with your past.  You too will have to be humble and totally honest about yourself.  It is the truth that will set you free.  You will find peace.  There is no burden that cannot be carried when we combine with Jesus.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

(Extract from Silvester O’Flynn: Gospel Reflections and Prayers (Columba Press).

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