Mt 11:28 – 30
Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened: and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden is light.
Father Joe asked us to think back to the readings from a few days ago, that Joseph was allowed to be sold by his brothers, that through this was enabled the saving of Joseph’s family later on, that God promised to make that nation great by bringing them to Egypt, and then they fell into slavery. Yet the point was that God made Israel strong through their trials, through their sufferings, and how often is it that we are purified by the hardest circumstances. We are not allowed trials which for which we are not offered all the grace that we need to overcome and more.
In Conversation with God:
Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, Jesus declares to us in today’s Gospel, and I will give you rest. He is speaking to the crowds following him, harassed and downtrodden, like sheep without a shepherd, lifting the loads that oppressed them. The Pharisees were crushing them with a series of minute rules which never brought peace to their hearts.
The heaviest weights that men carry are their sins… Jesus tells the people who are sweating under heavy and useless burdens, ‘Come to me… and I will give you rest.’ How could He relieve those weighed down by sin except by forgiving them? Every confession is a liberation, for sins – even venial ones – are a wearisome oppression. We come away from this sacrament at peace, ready to struggle afresh…
… if we keep close to Christ we will find that the inevitable hitches and problems we encounter take on a different meaning. Instead of being our cross they become Christ’s… He told you that this way is very hard. And, on hearing it, you heartily agreed, remembering that bit about the Cross being a sure sign of the true way… But your friend noticed only the rough part of the road, without bringing to mind Jesus’ promise: ‘My yoke is sweet.’
Remind him about it, because – perhaps when he realises it – he will give himself, and realise that he too has been called to holiness.
We must shout to the four winds that following Christ is a joyful road and even when it passes under the Cross it is marked with optimism and peace. The trials are the most fruitful stretches of all. Bees live and feed on bitter food when making their honey; in the same way, we can never practise gentleness and patience or produce honey from such excellent virtues more surely than when eating the bread of bitterness and living in the midst of afflictions.
Nobody can expect to go through life without sorrow, pain or worry. A Christian cannot make the mistake which Saint Gregory the Great described as follows: There are some who wish to be humble, but without being despised, who wish to be happy with their lot, but without being needy, who wish to be chaste, without mortifying the body, to be patient without suffering. They want to acquire virtues and to avoid the sacrifices those virtues involve: they are like soldiers who flee the battlefield and try to win the war from the comfort of the city…
Make no account of the cold, for I am true heat. The devil is making every effort to hinder this foundation…
… Adoro te devote, latens deitas – God-head here in hiding, whom I do adore…
… trials are our great opportunity to toughen ourselves up and to deepen our love.