What a feeling of relief when our burdens are lifted! Jesus knows how to get our attention! In today’s Gospel, this is His promise. “Come to Me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” What a message of hope for a world and our country as we pass through the losses and threats of the Covid-19 virus. What a message of Love so needed for our country as we face our original sin of over 400 years of racism and brutality.
Does Jesus tell us we can find rest? Well, yes, with the stipulation that we heed Jesus’ Word: “Come to Me,” first and foremost. And we then probably think that we have an immediate and sure answer to our prayer. Well, yes, but not at first in my experience. There are stepping stones to this place of rest. Too often, it’s more like “give it a rest.” For a person like myself –a fix-it person, an advocate, and opinionated, giving it a rest is not so easy and does not come first hand. I have to be led into that place of “giving it a rest.” This makes all the sense in the world. God needs time to work things through without me getting in the way. I’m reminded of a patient in my pastoral care counseling who held a truth that said, “Do your best, and let God do the rest.”
And still, we are not to the place of rest. There is more work to be done inside of our very selves. As we await the work of God in this “give it a rest” place, we are called to grow in so many ways. Trust. Trust. Trust. Acceptance, when we come to that point, gives us an absolute serenity. Faith strengthens us so that we can have patience and confidence. Wisdom allows us to see that God’s way is filled with just that-Wisdom. God’s Love has an opportunity to grow in us-love for God, others, and ourselves. The Word of God can find a home in us, and we will know the truth, and the truth will indeed set us free. These stepping stones of resting in God and “giving it a rest” can indeed bring us to the pay off-the rest that we are promised.
Amazing and life-giving experiences happen to a caterpillar in the cocoon before it is transformed into a butterfly. A lot has happened to our own lives as we sheltered in place for months. And a lot can happen in the kin-dom within as we come burdened to our God. Do we have more work to do in our country and our world for this promise to be realized in those who are burdened and seek rest? If we are freed, are we not called to do the same for others? Or, as Lady Liberty says: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Sr. Jo-Anne Faillace, OP