"Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give your rest" (Mt 11:29). He, our king and our God, invites us to come to him to help us face our trials and troubles. We need the support of our meek and just savior (Zec. 9:9) in our times of worries, fears, and anxiety. Whatever forms or shapes our burdens come in, we must trust that our Lord and King Jesus cares for us and should turn over those troubling conditions to him. St. Peter offered similar words of persuasion to take our worries to our compassionate Saviour when he wrote: "Cast all your worries upon him for he cares for you" (1 Pt 5:7; see Ps. 55: 23).
What are the burdens we bear? Is it the heavy burden of sin, as St. Jerome said? Is it the burden of poor health? Is it the burden of doubt about God's love for us? Is it a burden of a complicated relationship? Is it a burden concerning children who have left the faith? Is it a burden of financial strain? There are many more of them you can add to the list. What do we do with these burdens, the difficulties stressing and tearing us apart? We must act in faith, trusting Jesus' invitation, casting them upon Jesus who cares for our wellbeing. He will grant us rest, that is, shalom-peace. That is the promise he made. Peace means he will grant us calmness of heart, wholeness and wellness in our interior life so as not to be drowned by our difficulties. He does not promise they will be taken away; those burdens often remain. But he assures us that he will strengthen us and see us through those struggles if he does not remove them.
Jesus adds to his invitation, "Take my yoke upon you...for my yoke is easy and my burden light" (Mt. 11:29'30). Jesus' Gospel replaces the burden of the law presented by the Pharisees and Scribes. Jesus' yoke and burden are constituted in his teachings and the Sacraments he instituted. They are still demanding and do not necessarily get rid of life hardships. For instance, Jesus' message and wisdom assure us we shall still face difficulties in the world (Jn 16:33) and must be willing to carry our crosses daily and follow him (Lk 9: 23; Mt 10: 38) if we want to be worthy of him.
So what do we do with the troubles life throws at us? What do we do with difficulties that accompany following Jesus and doing his will? We must constantly pray for faith. Without faith, we cannot do God's will nor please him. We must pray for a living faith and nourish that faith daily. We must believe that God loves and cares for us, no matter the hardship we face as Christians. This is hard, but we must strive to do this. We must imitate our Lord and be meek and humble to accept his will for us, including brutal truths about our existence and how to order our life based on his wisdom and Gospel.
One of the four invitations of the Year of Parish Revival from the USCCB National Eucharistic Mission is a call to Personal Encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist: "This is a specific call for monthly 'Encounter Nights' that help parishioners encounter Jesus in the Eucharist personally." We are responding to this invitation through our parish's monthly Eucharistic Adoration. We had one this past Monday, the third of July. Did you have any exciting and inspiring experience you would like to share about how worshiping Jesus in Adoration helped you deal effectively with your burden? I'll like to hear from you. I know Jesus is a promise keeper. If you present your burden to him, he will keep his part of the bargain and give you rest.
Fr. Bernard, OP