segunda-feira, 4 de julho de 2011
Time “Take my yoke…learn from me.”Gospel: Mt 11:25-30
03.07.2011 C.F.C 14th
Sunday in Ordinary Time “Take my yoke…learn from me.”Gospel: Mt 11:25-30
Today’s Gospel in an answer to a very simple question: who is this Jesus we follow? What is he like? He tells us himself: he is gentle, and humble of heart. There is a simplicity about this Gospel which speaks very clearly to tired hearts. Indeed, it is often the case that we overlook the simplicity of the Gospel message - which is why it is valuable to be as children, constantly wondering and marvelling at the beauty and fascination of Jesus. How much God must love us: the message of salvation is so easy to receive, the promise is so welcome. This is a Sunday to wallow in the wonder of a God who is Â‘kind and full of compassion.
This is a beautiful gospel passage, in which Jesus tells us the kind of heart he has, and the kind of hearts we should have, if we are to be open to his message. It is a consoling gospel, because it speaks of humility, gentleness, and rest.
Please notice that part of today’s gospel is not spoken to us at all! It is Jesus speaking to his Father. I often think that, if you really want to get to know someone, it would be easier if you could eavesdrop on their prayers! How they speak, and what they say gives an insight into what’s going on within. The prayer in today’s gospel is like a whispered exclamation of gratitude. Jesus is truly grateful about the nature of his message. It is for the child-hearted, for the ordinary punter, and not for the intellectuals, and the worldly-minded. It makes little sense up in the head, because it goes against the thinking and values of the world, and it confounds those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Today’s gospel contains a beautiful invitation. Jesus invites us to come to him if we want peace, if we want solid teaching, if we want salvation, or freedom from the bondage of our humanity. “Let me teach you,” he says. Come to him, just as you are, and he will lead you to a life beyond your wildest dreams. This life is not about going to heaven, or something that is promised after we die. It is promised and offered now, because the road to heaven is heaven.
Response: Today’s gospel certainly calls for a response. It should evoke a kindling of the heart, and it should offer us a clear way out of our turmoil and struggles. We can all distinguish between being intellectual and worldly-wise, and being childlike. Jesus speaks to the Father, and he speaks about the Father in today’s gospel. If God is Father, then we are called on to become like children. Being like children is to live within the limits of what we have, what we know, and what we can do. It is a time of learning and discovery and, especially, is it a time of dependency. For those of us blessed enough to have had a normal childhood, it is so much easier to understand what that means.
Jesus speaks about knowing the Father, rather than knowing about him. We axe invited into a relationship, an attachment, a sense of belonging. We have to think of God as Father, and to speak to him as Father. Prayer would be so simple and spontaneous if we could speak to the Father as a child speak~ to hisher earthly father. Not all fathers are good at listening, nor are some of them good at giving time and space to their children. This can make it all the more difficult for us to relate to the full meaning of such a relationship. Jesus tells us that he will inform us about the Father, and he will reveal the Father to us. Jesus is always on “stand-by,” as it were, waiting on us to be ready.
We all experience weariness, and heavy burdens from time to time. There is a tendency to file God’s phone number under “Emergencies Only,” and to turn to him when everything else has failed. God would love to be in on the act so much quicker. He is our Father and, having given us life, he wants to be involved in every dimension of our lives. Coming to Jesus is coming to the Father. Jesus tells us that his burden is light. It is not a question of exchanging one burden for another. Responding to his call, or invitation, is a source of great blessing and real joy. Responding to his invitation is to share in his life. The people who do this are the happiest people on earth.
When you get a chance, a quiet moment, today or soon, go down into your heart and see can you find the inner child there. Remember it is only the body that grows old. The person within is always a child, who always likes to be loved, needed, and praised, and who still whistles passing the graveyard. If you can get in touch with that inner child, your heart is ready to be open to God. If you read today’s gospel with that sort of open heart, it would really enter into you, and your heart would burn. The children of God are heart-people, not head-people. Down in my heart I know, even when I completely fail to understand it in my head. For those who don’t understand, no words are possible; and for those who do understand, no words are necessary.
Have you ever asked Jesus to reveal the Father to you? “Jesus, please reveal the Father to me.” To use this as a mantra, to be repeated again and again throughout the day, is bound to bring you into a new experience of God. Jesus, who knows our inner most hearts, will see clearly whether I’m serious or not and, therefore, whether to answer or not. You can easily become one of those to whom Jesus chooses to reveal the Father, as he says in today’s gospel.
It is not possible for a human being to fall on herhis knees, cry Out to God, and not be heard. The next time you feel “down,” go aside somewhere and, remembering Jesus’ invitation in today’s gospel to “Come to me,” call out to him from your heart. He will hear you, and respond to your plea. Then you take up the yoke of service, do something for someone else, and you will soon be distracted from yourself and your burdens. “I will give you rest. You will find rest for your souls.” The only way to know this is to do it. Take him at his word, and be open to him keeping his promises.
St. Matthew tells us that “Jesus exclaimed: ‘I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…’” Jesus immediately goes to the source of the success of his disciples’ mission—his heavenly Father, to give him thanks and praise. He is free from a self-centeredness that would end up in self-exaltation or pride. Jesus lived in continuous communion with his Father. The success of his returning missionaries led him to break out in spontaneous praise of his Father.
Jesus calls out to us and says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus invites us to come to him. We have free access to him through faith (Rom 5:1-2). We accomplish this through prayer. Jesus was inviting those who “labor and are burdened”. We would all come under that category at some time or other. But at the time, he was speaking to those who were laden with the Pharisees’ many additional requirements to fulfill the Law. The Pharisees weighted them down with an endless series of petty regulations. Yet they brought no peace to their souls. The people found the Law, as it was expounded by the scribes and Pharisees, too difficult to keep.
Jesus goes on to invite these burdened people to, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” The yoke of the Law was too heavy for anyone to keep. Jesus’ yoke, in contrast, is suited to the people’s needs; and his burden, a faithful relationship with God, is light. For Jesus himself is afflicted and lowly in heart, as the servant of the Lord described in Isaiah. Jesus thus expresses solidarity with the faithful.
The yoke and the burden of Jesus are submission to the reign of God. This imposes no further burden on those who accept it; rather it makes it easier for them to bear the burdens they already have. The revelation in the kingdom and the knowledge of the Father relieve burdens and weariness and make it easier to live under God’s will. For example, the understanding of the purifying value of the cross makes the carrying of it lighter. We see the great good that comes from it: the salvation of the world.
Jesus invites people of good will to place themselves in his school, to become his disciples: what is appealing about being in his school is that he is “meek and humble of heart”; he has nothing of the harshness and pride of the Pharisees.
Jesus makes the burdens of life lighter. He frees us from the heavy burden of sin. Isaiah tells us, “Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured… But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed…the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all” (Is 53:4-6).
Thus, Jesus frees us from the heaviest burden of all—the weight of our sins that was crushing us. Having become light-hearted, then, we can bear normal burdens of life with joy. Moreover, we understand their meaning; there is a purpose for them. We can then bear them with love—love for Jesus who accompanies us in carrying the cross, and who gives us the grace to make it easier to carry it, and to see its transforming power.
Jesus couples his “Take my yoke upon you” with “and learn from me”. The yoke of obedience to Jesus and his new law, the Gospel, dispose us to “learn from” Jesus. This humble attitude unites us to Jesus and allows us to live in his company, to be in communion with him and the Father. And in this union, Jesus communicates to us his own virtues and dispositions. He gives us an experiential knowledge of himself. Such infused knowledge inclines us to want to become more and more like Jesus. This humble disposition of acceptance of God’s will and self-effacement purify the sinful self that rebels against God in its prideful arrogance and disobedience.
Becoming one with him, we both “learn from” him, and come to know him personally. In this union with Jesus, we find sublime rest in him—in his heart. Our deepest yearnings and desires, at last, attain perfect satisfaction and are put to rest. We need look no further, for we have found the one we were created for who gives us infinite contentment. Our search for happiness can now cease, for we have found the one who brings us to completion. We have found nothing less than total satisfaction in the love and knowledge of the divine for which we were created. Our limited human nature is brought to completion by the infinite and the divine.