ERY OFTEN WE THINK that reading the Bible, especially the Gospels, is the same as living or observing them. And that is far from the truth. I think this can readily be seen in just a few words that our Lord says in today’s short selection. He tells us to “come to him if we labor and are burdened and he will give us rest.” Now I think we would all agree that these are very consoling words. But really how many of us have really ever done this?
First of all we all have to agree that in life we labor and are burdened. I think our Lord is referring here to when things are getting more difficult than usual. Sure we have to work every day. But I think He is especially referring to the times when the work or the burdens get bigger or harder than usual. And that can happen in so many ways. And when that does happen, how often do we think to take them to our Lord? Do we ever think to just take and pour them out to our Lord in His presence?
What do you think our Lord meant when He said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened?” He meant that we should take our burdens to Him, offer them to Him, and talk to Him about Him, asking for a solution. And let me add in regard to this point that when we talk to Him about Him, we at times have to be quiet and just reflect to see what kind of answer He might be suggesting to us.
What do we do most of the time? I guess I should not really try to speak for you but should only relate my own experience and perhaps what I have heard from my dealings with other people. Most of the time we tend to take matters in our own hands. If we have a problem or something that is burdening or bothering us we immediately try to fix it. To me it seems our Lord is suggesting that we first put it in His hands, that we first entrust it to Him. Then wait and see what He is going to suggest as to the possible solution. We might be surprised at the different and possibly much better solution. But then we so often can’t wait and want what we want right now. Remember when Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive”, He never added the word “immediately.”
YOU PERHAPS HAVE NOTICED that I have first commented on the last part of today’s Gospel reading. I guess I did that since I considered that part to be so important. It goes without saying that some parts of the Bible may seem more important or meaningful than others. And this can vary from individual to individual. The wonderful thing about Jesus and His teaching is that it is within the grasp of everyone. No one can be too illiterate to be a follower of Jesus. One need not be wise or educated to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus speaks about, or rather praises His heavenly Father for revealing things to the little ones, the unimportant people, what He has hidden from the wise and the learned.
I would venture to say that Jesus is mainly thinking here of those things in life, or even more importantly in the life hereafter, that really matter. The poor or unimportant person in this life who knows and accepts his position or status in this life, knowing that something much better is awaiting him or her in the next life, is much wiser and better off than the person who is mainly intent on making money or accruing wealth or power in this life. I would venture to say that is what Jesus was referring to when He said these words. Unfortunately it seems most people are not going to believe this until it is too late to do anything about it.
In conclusion, I know that when driving we are supposed to keep both eyes on what we are doing. But in our general living on this earth, I think it is a good idea always to keep one eye focused on the next life. Whatever we do in this life can have repercussions in and for our next life. If we are truly wise and prudent we will keep that in mind. We won’t think just of how something might be affecting us here and now, but also how things will affect us now and for all eternity.
We hope you enjoyed this homily by Fr. Valentine Young, OFM.