July 17, 2008
Thursday of the fifteenth week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 11: 28-30
Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you; I know that you are present here and everywhere and are always looking out for me and guiding me. I trust and hope in you, because I know you will never lead me astray, if only I listen to you and obey you. I love you for being so good and patient with me, and I desire to live each day more faithful to you.
Petition: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours!
1. Two Make the Load Lighter Jesus’ words here almost seem contradictory. Just a few paragraphs earlier in the Gospel, he was telling us to take up our cross and follow him, yet now he claims that he offers rest from our burdens. The contradiction, however, is only apparent. To begin with, the cross of Christ certainly is difficult from a natural perspective, but from a supernatural perspective we never carry it alone. Every person on the earth must carry a cross of difficulties and sufferings, made either by the world or by Christ. If we take up Christ’s cross, he carries most of the weight and gives us himself and his promise of eternal life as well. All the saints testify that the path of holiness is hard, but that the love of God more than compensates. He truly does give rest for our souls, and a light burden!
2. Divine Restraint Shortly before saying these words, Jesus was condemning in harsh terms those who refused to believe in him; nonetheless, he says he is meek and humble of heart. Again, the inconsistency is but an illusion. Jesus, as God, is all-powerful, yet he treats us with mercy and seeks our conversion. In the Old Testament, for example, when the Israelites leaving Egypt proved intractable and complained and rebelled, God punished them severely and swiftly with exile, disease, and even sudden death. Jesus in the New Testament, faced with slander, opposition, disbelief and eventual unjust execution, reprimands his enemies only to move them to conversion. He prays for them to be forgiven, even as they nail him to the cross and mock him in his agony. He came “not to condemn the world, but to save it”; he is indeed meek and humble!
3. Jesus as Our Role Model He says these things, not to praise himself, but to draw us to him and to invite us to be like him. “Learn from me,” he says – and how much we need to! He came to suffer for us, to bear our sins, and to win our redemption. He uses every method possible to seek our conversion. He used his divine power only for the good of others, even those who opposed him. He is patient and merciful, and constantly offers us his help to be faithful to his Father’s will. How difficult it can be for us to follow his example in dealing with other people! We certainly can’t do it on our own. Let us go to him, as he has invited us, to be guided by his example and strengthened by his grace.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, my Lord and my God, thank you for your love and your unflagging desire to bring us to salvation. Thank you for the gift of your grace that upholds me and helps me to have the peace, hope and joy in my soul that alleviate the cross of my daily difficulties and failings. Help me to learn from you, to love as you loved, and always to act with the greatest purity of intention in my dealings with others.
Resolution: Today, when I feel the weight of the cross, I will turn my mind and heart to Christ for strength and comfort.
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