Like so many Americans, in the past few months, I've felt confused, fearful, sad, and outraged related to the recent black deaths, peaceful protest being met with police violence, and violent protests causing destruction in major cities across the United States. I've engaged in conversations with family members and friends about the anxieties that we are carrying. During one conversation, my niece stated, "It's different for you. You have Jesus!" To which I wanted to balk and ask, "What difference does that make?" Instead, I took a deep breath and let her continue talking.
At that time, I had no idea that the text for this Sunday included these words of Jesus: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
During the past few weeks, I've thought about the words my friend said to me, "It's different for you." I've asked myself what Jesus' words about our anxieties and burdens mean in the context of the world of coronavirus and civil unrest.
Today's gospel begins with Jesus praising His Father for revealing to little ones what remains hidden to the wise and the learned. He adds a declaration that the Father has delivered into His hands all power, authority, and judgment. He knows all our weaknesses and that sometimes the little strength we have can fail us. Therefore, He invites us to offload all our problems on Him and in return, He will give us His yoke, to learn from him, which is easy to bear and light. Jesus tells us that in Him, we will find rest.
Don't we all seek this deep-down sense of peace, of healing, of rest and refreshment? Why do we struggle along with so many things? We often do, though. We forget to pray. We forget to turn to Jesus and give Him our cares and concerns, our worries, our heartaches. We carry them like weights sometimes on our shoulders, disturbing the peace of our hearts. Jesus said, "learn from me", and this is excellent advice.
His life was founded in prayer. We, too, need to revive our prayer life. In a single moment, God can impact the grace we need to handle the things that cause us the most heartache if we only give him half a chance.