Psalms 103:1-4, 8, 10
Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
Where do you find life burdensome today?
If you and I stop to reflect in this time before Christmas, we may answer this question with a number of concerns: concerns about how much there is to get done, struggles in our family, personal worry about a family member or friend, sadness over the loss of someone dear, concerns over health for ourselves or a loved one, hoping for acceptance into a school or the securing of a job, yearning for reconciliation with someone we love, pleading for freedom from addiction for ourselves or another.
Jesus says, “Come to me…and I will refresh you.”
I invite you to take His words seriously. These words are more than nice; moreover, they deeply challenge us. These words speak the deep truth of this Advent message of what His coming fully means.
Take some time today to pray with what you find burdensome. Often we will pray with the deep, personal concerns that we have mentioned already, and as we pray to God with these concerns, a deeper, “spiritual pain” can surface for us. Most often, you and I carry in our hearts some attitude of disbelief of the reality of the truth of the Incarnation. Sure, we know that Christ has redeemed the world, but in the midst of our very personal struggles and pains, we often subtly think that somehow we—of ourselves—have to make it better. Often there is a deeper pain in our hearts that has taken on a false burden of needing to make something happen. We can take on too much responsibility instead of placing the responsibility on God; we can feel that, “If I don’t do it, who will?” instead of asking God to do it; we can feel that we have to earn God’s love or get it right so that He will love us; we can feel that “I’m not enough” and so we always have to try extra hard; we can become so good at managing our lives that we fail to be honest with ourselves and God; we can become so concerned about what others think that we fail to listen to what God wants. We take on false burdens. The voices and the attitudes are unique to each of us, but the reality is true for all of us. We believe that Jesus has come to set us free—and we don’t believe it completely.
“Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”
Jesus’ emphasis here is on gentleness and humility. He asks us to assume, as He did, the posture of a child, to come to Him with all of our burdens and to place them all on Him. Ask Him if you have taken on any false burdens. Don’t try to figure it out on your own. He will reveal it to you in gentleness. Through the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation or the placing of this burden on the altar to be transformed, you and I become transformed and are freed from the heavy burden.
“Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
Here lies the truth of the Christmas message: that Jesus has come into our deeply personal struggles and pains to relieve us, to set us free, and to bring us and those we love to fullness of Life with Him—forever! Now that’s Good News!
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