“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Our Gospel passages in the last two Sundays were extracted from a message Jesus gave while sending out his disciples in pairs to preach the Gospel in towns and villages that He was later to visit. They were not to fear any human being but only God who has the power to destroy both soul and body in hell. Also, they were not to love anybody more than Jesus, not even their own mother or father or children. It almost seemed like a suicide mission yet these disciples returned with joy.
This is where today’s Gospel passage takes off. Dear friends, are you currently faced with a lot of trials? Is your heart burdened? Are you experiencing pain or loss at this moment? Today’s message is for you.
Lesson 1: Know that God alone holds the Key to your Happiness.
As Jesus puts it: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to infants.” What is this secret wisdom? In the words of St. Augustine: “You have made us for yourself O God and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
In sending out his disciples, Jesus told them, “Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff.” (Matthew 10:9-10). In this way, Jesus wanted them not to put their trust in riches or try to seek happiness from material things. Too often, we assume that the more money (or riches we acquire), the happier we become. The disciples must have felt this way but having followed Jesus’ instruction and returned with joy, they discovered a great secret – that only in God can we find true happiness.
Lesson 2: Put to Death all that is Sinful within you.
As St. Paul says in today’s second reading: “we are debtors, not to the flesh… if you live according to the flesh, you will die but if by the spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Truly, being worldly-minded, living according to the flesh only brings about frustration. This is reflected in the sadness of the rich young man who walked away from Jesus because he was too attached to his wealth.
Jesus referred to his disciples as infants because they displayed a childlike trust and humility by obeying His instructions to the letter. When we fail to trust and obey God, we become like the “wise and understanding” from whom secrets of the kingdom are hidden. Of course, those who feel that they know more than God will not follow his commands. Every sin is a rejection of God and an abuse of freedom that God gave to us.
Lesson 3: Learn From Jesus – Forgive and Forget.
In his joy, Jesus presents a special invitation to every one of us who may be troubled, disturbed, harassed and dejected like sheep without a shepherd (Cf. Matthew 10:36). And what is this invitation? “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me. (Matthew 11:28-29). Coming to Jesus implies learning from Him. We cannot say we have truly come to Jesus if we fail to learn from Him.
And what do we learn from Jesus? Forgiveness (non-violence). To Peter who wanted to fight for him on the night of His arrest, Jesus said: “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52). In other words, learning from Jesus is actually learning to forgive others. Is it easy? No. Hence, Jesus refers to it as an easy yoke and a light burden. Forgiving others may require you to swallow your pride and let go of what has been taken from you but it remains the way to finding rest for your soul.
Lesson 4: Learn From Jesus – Be Humble and Gentle
In a world where people would rather have their way by violence, Jesus wants us to learn from his simplicity, gentleness and lowliness. As Jesus says: “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” In our quest for happiness, we often wrongly assume that we can be happy by lording it over others but Jesus teaches us to do the opposite.
Our first reading today states: “Behold your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he (yet), humble and riding on an ass.” Humility is not a sign of weakness rather it is a sign of courage and great inner strength.
Conclusion: Leave it for God.
Stop worrying over your problems. By worrying, we magnify our problems and God appears lesser in our eyes. Be like Paul and Silas, sing instead. Sing the praises of God as our Psalmist today exhorts: “I will extol you my God and bless your name forever… the Lord is faithful in all his words… the Lord supports all who are bowed down.”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, in my sadness and pain, support me O Lord. Amen. Bible Study: Zechariah 9:9-10, Psalm 85, Romans 8:9-13 and Matthew 11:25-30).