July 6, 2008
ORDINARY 14 (A)
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
- Mt. 11: 28
Who were the burdened that our Lord had in mind? Possibly the poor & slaves who were burdened with monotonous physical labor. He could have meant those earnest people who were diligently trying to keep all 613 commandments of the Law.
However, I think He would have included those with hidden burdens such as the internal world of rejection, the fear that we might not be good enough or strong enough to cope with living, the burden of guilt for past actions or inactions, the burden of being unable to forgive another or to accept forgiveness from another, the burden of a destructive addiction or a destructive relationship. These are certainly burdens we can recognize in our lives today, & that means anyone who is world weary would be included in His invitation.
But what does he mean by rest? Certainly not less work & more sleep. It is the rest of the 7th day of creation when God saw all that He had made was good & rested. As St. Augustine put it, our hearts are restless until they rest in God, & this means rediscovering the essential goodness of creation. Yes, we are included in that goodness whether we realize it or not.
This rest will be granted only through a process of serious discipleship, & that means learning meekness & humility. Meekness does not mean being a rubber mat for other people, but the steady flow of gentleness. It never resorts to the stick or sword to get its own way, yet it is unrelenting & courageous in its dependence upon the divine will. Humility is the partner of meekness: it means knowing our place in the scheme of things & not confusing ourselves with God. It does not mean thinking badly of ourselves, but nothing of ourselves, i.e., that which is most difficult for humans: being realistic about ourselves.
The meek & the humble live at peace, & their actions flow effortlessly from a deep center that is in communion with God & creation. Their labor & their burdens are shared. They deliver us from the burden of being control freaks. Their polar opposites are the violent & the arrogant.
This means disengaging from our wise & learned status & embracing our child status. The wise & learned like everything that can be seen, & what does not fit in with what they already know is dismissed. They have a defensive, egotistical mindset that does not have the equipment to receive the love of God revealed in the person & work of Jesus. The child mind is not defensive or inordinately attached to what it thinks. Most importantly, it is essentially relational: it does not think it is something in itself & does not feel it must expend its energies in protection & isolation. It is something we can have even as adults. The spiritual rest that comes with it is trusting in the life that God alone can give us. AMEN!