Homily on Rest for the Weary

Come to Me

Reflection on “Rest for the Weary” based on the Gospel of Matthew 11:25-30 (14th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

How are you feeling? Still tired? You are not alone. Studies conducted in recent years confirm the fact that people are not getting enough rest, not enough sleep, not enough relaxation to stay healthy. The stress of life in the rat race is wearing us out, body and soul. No wonder, with all due respect, at times, we come to Mass, or the job, or school, without much energy and enthusiasm and eagerness. It is not that we are bad or lazy. It is just that we are just plain tired.

How come? For example, for one thing – We carry our cell phone everywhere we go all the time; we want to multi task, talking to relatives and friends or clients while working, even while driving. We drink more caffeine and energy drinks so we can stay awake longer to catch up on the pressing list of things to do.

And what is worst – This constant running around, multi-tasking is exhausting not only our bodies, but also our souls. Yes – We need a nap, or a vacation, certainly. But even more, we need a word of grace from God for our weary souls to re-assure us. Because, if we are not careful, all this running around causes us to neglect our inner lives, distracting us from the nourishment and care of our souls. And as a result, even a good nap or a long vacation does not really quite heal us.

In fact – It is funny or ironic – and you probably can relate to this- people come back from vacation more tired than they were before they went on vacation…

Our readings today have a message and good news for those who are weary and troubled.

Jesus offers us the rest we need to refresh our souls… Come to me, all you who are heavy laden, weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. The good news is that Jesus knows, and cares, about our weariness. We are not alone.

When you are worn out, what you do not want to hear is someone who dismiss or make it sound like what you are feeling is not important.

Jesus does not make us feel our weariness is less important. He invites us to find rest in Him. He does not accuse or blame us. Jesus simply offers himself, like a strong shoulder, to lean against. He gives us permission to admit the truth–we are tired or feeling burdened. We have been working and living too hard, too long. And so consequently, we have exhausted our inner lives by neglecting our spiritual life, by neglecting the primary relationships that give us peace and joy…relationship with God and one another.

St Augustine said: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

That is why Jesus continues to invite us: “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” It is what we all need, all of us. We need to set aside our burdens and worries so we can sit in the presence of a wise and loving God, and to catch our breath again… to give us opportunity to examine our way of life if some of that weariness is of our own making.

That is why it is very important to pray everyday… to commune with God. The busier we become, the more challenges we face, the more time we have to spend in prayer – talking and listening to God.

I suggest also – Try to go on a spiritual retreat at least once a year… to go out into the desert so to speak and re-examine our lives, to step away from the rat race, to re-focus our lives on what really matters in life… to let Jesus enter deeper into our lives….We need to put our trust in God … He is our hope, not just for the future but our hope for the present… a taste of eternal life.

Thomas Merton said: “We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.”

Jesus offers us rest, but then he invites us to take his yoke – meaning – to go back to work! – to go back to the business of living – for the love of God. Jesus said: “My yoke is easy, my burden is light” …to continue to live our lives according to God’s holy will…to do and be what God calls us to be in our life.

The resting referred to here is not yet our final resting in peace at the end of our earthly life.

OR – If you thought that the rest Jesus offers is a kind of a long retirement – sipping a drink -watching sunsets – think again. He offers gentle rest for the weary, but then he invites us back to return to the business of living… only this time, he invites us to re-think how we live our lives.

The image of the yoke is an image familiar to his first century audience. A yoke allows a person or animal to carry a huge amount of weight, balanced over the shoulders.

Jesus said that His yoke is easy. Having Jesus at the center of our lives – He does not add any more to the burdens of those who are already burdened… unlike the heavy burdens placed on people’s shoulders by the Pharisees in His time – who did nothing to ease the weighty burden.

Jesus wants us to rest, but also to return to work – to the business of living – wisely. He just wants us to learn a wiser way to go about our daily activities – a wiser way to live… and so face the burdens and challenges of life – wisely. The rest that Jesus promises is actually a joyful refreshment in the midst of the burdens of life… refreshing our soul.

St. Therese of Lisieux said: The Joy that Jesus gives does not reside in the things about us but in the very depths of the soul. One can have this joy in the gloom of a dungeon as well as in the palace of a king.

You see – To be wise is to see things, people, ourselves, situations, as God sees them…with Godly perspective… in the midst of any circumstances we might find ourselves in.

So we need to pray for wisdom every day, to have the mind of Christ and the heart of Christ, meek and humble… for us to have that peace Jesus promises, peace beyond understanding… And in that sense, I can say to you my brothers and sisters: “May you all rest in peace, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus invites all those who find life burdensome to come to him for rest. He did not promise to do away with their burdens but rather to help them carry them. He promised to shoulder their burdens with them, so that they in turn could bear the burdens of others.

I just watched this video of Cardinal Luis Tagle addressing the Youth. He asked them to reflect on the meaning or purpose of life. He said that the purpose or meaning of life is not something, but Someone… Jesus Christ… because – for Jesus – we – the People of God – are the meaning and purpose of His life. God so loved the world He gave us His only Son.

So, my brothers and sisters in Christ- as we heard in our first reading: Rejoice heartily, rejoice heartily all you people of the Lord, Shout for joy, for our Savior has come… who is inviting us: “Come to me, all you who are heavy laden, weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

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