Daily Reflection
July 19th, 2001
Andy Alexander, S.J.
University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office
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Exodus 3:11-20
Psalms 105:1, 5, 8-9, 24-25, 26-27
Matthew 11:28-30

"This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you."
"The Lord remembers his covenant for ever."
"Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you."

I have to confess, that I sometimes find some aspects of life to be "burdensome."  And there are those days when I feel "weary."  I tell myself that it is no big deal.  I know so many people who have to face burdens and relentless challenges I don't yet know.  And whenever I'm tempted to some measure of self-pity, I'm reminded of the millions of people on this earth who live in unspeakable hardship.

And so, I'm embarrassed to confess that there are times when, instead of coming to Jesus with my burdens and weariness, I've taken comfort elsewhere.  Perhaps we all do it to some degree.  "I need a drink."  "I need to just sit here and wallow in some self-pity."  "Why shouldn't I be a little self-indulgent; everybody else seems to be?"  "I'm just going to be a crabby tyrant for a while, because that's how I felt treated all day."  "The people who are supposed to care for me don't seem to, so I'm going to take some care from those who do care for me."

Of course, the "refreshment" we take in these and other ways can range from mere relaxation to serious self-destruction.  And, when it moves us to a more self-seeking or nasty place, the worst effect it has on us is that it numbs or completely disables our compassion for others.  I've never known myself, at least, to be self-absorbed and compassionate at the same time.

When things get heavy, Jesus invites us to turn to him.  He promises real refreshment.  A real rest for our souls. 

His perspective-changing invitation tells us that all that we thought we were bearing alone are really his burdens!  All that we carry each day - from our past to what we face in the future - and all we endure and labor hard for, sometimes even to survive, are all really his cares and his concerns.  They weigh on him.  He is, after all, the Lover of us all.  And he bears it so gently, so humbly.  So much to learn from him in that.

Jesus invites us to see it all a different way.  He invites us to imagine a wonderful image.  He's pulling all that I face - like an ox pulling a wagon.  And, he invites me to share the yoke with him.  I'm not alone, and the burden is "light."  What an incredible image of any marriage, any partnership.  "You are not alone in any of your burdens.  Come, let's do it, let's be in it together.  Let's share the journey and its joys and sorrows together."

And, side-by-side with Jesus, sharing our burdens together, the day is a lot lighter.  And, I'm looking around to my brothers and sisters, near me and around the world, feeling how hard it must be to bear burdens alone.

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