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Sunday Scripture: Come to Him for rest

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July 3, 2011

By Father Timothy Schehr

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9-13; Matthew 11:25-30.

Are any of us feeling tired and weary? If so, Jesus invites us to come to Him for some rest. And why not accept His invitation? All of us from time to time find living in this world a bit overwhelming.


We are weighed down by worries, responsibilities, aches and pains. So why not turn to Jesus for help? After all, we are all aware there are plenty of scenes in the Gospels depicting Jesus as the healer.


But in this Gospel reading Jesus may be talking about healing from more than the ordinary aches and pains of life. We are spiritual beings and Jesus may therefore also be offering a remedy to a spiritual kind of weariness.


If we are honest and candid enough to take a real look at life we will probably admit that no matter what circumstances of life surround us, there is always a yearning for something more. But it does take real honesty to come to this kind of understanding. Worldly cleverness and learning can distract us away from our need for spiritual nourishment. This Gospel, in fact, begins with Jesus praising His Father for revealing to little ones what remains hidden to the wise and the learned. The Lord cannot force us to walk with him, but the invitation is always out there.


The author of Ecclesiastes put worldly wisdom in perspective when he described it as vanity. What he meant by vanity was the emptiness that remains even after constantly pursuing satisfaction in the things of this world. People take a heavy burden upon themselves when they try to find among the limited resources of this world the one thing that will truly give meaning to life. Breaking free from the weight of obsession with things material is the first step in drawing closer to the Lord. 


The Lord invites us to walk through this life with Him instead of trying to make it all by ourselves. Draft animals with a yoke between them share the burden of the load. What is too heavy for one becomes manageable for two. In a similar but much more profound way walking with the Lord will help us make good spiritual progress.


Walking with the Lord awakens us to realities that reach beyond time. Of course we must live in time, but we can also set our sights on the kingdom of heaven. Walking with the Lord will help us do that. Total service to God is the key. This is what Jesus means by being gentle and humble of heart. No wonder He began this passage with offering praise to His heavenly Father.


The prophet Zechariah lived many centuries before the time of Jesus. But had he heard the Lord say these things, he would have nodded with understanding. He looked forward to the day a king would bring peace to the world. He had seen enough of cavalries and chariots bringing death and destruction in their wake. He wanted to see a king riding on a beast and associated with fields of grain rather than fields of battle.


Paul shares this same vision of freedom as he writes the faithful in Rome. He speaks about the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. They see by the Spirit now. Once they served the cravings of the body; now they serve God.  The flesh is destined for the earth; but a person alive in the Spirit is destined for eternal life. To use the image from the Gospel, they have taken the Lord’s yoke upon their shoulders. Walking beside the Lord puts them definitely on the right road. 


Father Schehr is a faculty member at the Athenaeum of Ohio.

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