“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest…Learn from me […] and you will find rest for yourselves.” That is the final part of the last of today’s readings.
The older we get, the more worn out from our life concerns and struggles, the more we tend to long for rest. The promise of rest is so very inviting to someone who is road-weary and lonely.
How do we reach it? Not alone, it turns out. “Come to me,” is the first part of Jesus’ invitation.
Jesus’ followers who responded to His call left their livelihoods and their families and traveled around with him, semi-homeless style. They must have left a lot behind. But they also got to live and travel and eat and speak with Him. Every single day.
That’s not nothing.
The Apostle Peter seemed to think it was more than a fair trade. When many of the disciples who had been in their company turned away and left, Jesus asked the Twelve if they also would leave. “Lord, to whom else should we go? You’re the only one who can show us the way,” was the answer. (paraphrase of John, chapter 6:68)
Jesus has never asked anyone to go it alone; He promised His presence. He doesn’t leave anyone who accepts the invitation on their own to figure it out by themselves.
When we hear of hardships and suffering, we are tempted to wonder, “Where is God now when things are so hard?” Where is Jesus when people have lost their home? Their health? Their life savings?
Sometimes hidden, but always, always there. Jesus is willing to suffer so deeply that He would become so unrecognizable as to risk going entirely unnoticed.
It is one of the great privileges of the Christian journey to discover that Jesus is along the way, no matter what that path looks like, or how surprising and destitute His disguise sometimes is, in the poorest and most ignored of our communities.
“Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” It is something we must learn. We won’t know it right away because faith requires learning. Faith means that we must look with the eyes of God, and see things the way God sees them, not the way others do.
To accompany people in their life journeys is something our Diocese of Chalan Kanoa aims to do on Saipan, Tinian and Rota. At Karidat, we witness up close the pains, sorrows and joys that some of the poorest of people suffer.
You might think that is hard to do, week after week. But here’s a secret: We are not alone, and Christ is with us all along the way. We are all on the path to learning just how “easy” His yoke is, and how “light” His burden, and the only way to do that is first to say yes to the invitation.
Come to me…take my yoke upon you…learn from me. (Matthew 11)