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Matthew 11:28-30

The Word of God

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30
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    • I am often weary, Lord, and my burden feels heavy on me. When I look at Christians, some of them indeed seem relaxed and easy in your company. Others appear uptight and driven, not restful people to be near.
    • You are a gentle, humble presence. If I feel under pressure in prayer, something is wrong. It is a sign of your presence to me that my soul feels rested.
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    • Sometimes we carry heavy burdens because we want to figure things out on our own, thinking there is no one to help us. I pray that people who are weighed down may hear the voice of Jesus. I pray that I may hear it too, and have the humility I need to ask for and to receive help.
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    • When the burden is so heavy that prayers cannot even be formed, lean on him. When you are too weary to lift your head, rest it on his shoulder, knowing that somehow your burden will be shared, lifted and eventually eased. He has said so, and he is faithful to his promises.
    • Lord, let me share your work. Open my eyes to the burdens borne by others. Open my heart to the pain that cannot be shared, to the fear that cannot be spoken, to those who face darkness alone.
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    • A yoke is a wooden or iron frame which joins two oxen for the purpose of pulling a plough or cart. Here, Jesus invites us to share the burden of our worries and fears with him, since he is only too willing to help us cope with and manage them. It is an open invitation spoken to us by Jesus who is forever “gentle and humble in heart”.
    • Jesus also invites his followers to ‘shoulder his yoke’ – the challenge of Christian discipleship and witness. ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9:23). Lord, when my cross in life becomes too heavy, may I always look to you for help. May I, in turn, help others carry their crosses too.
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    • An old story describes Peter at the gates of heaven. The world has ended. The sheep have been separated from the goats; all the faithful are inside and Peter is preparing to close the gates. Then he sees Jesus standing outside. ‘Master’ he says, ‘what are you doing outside?’ Jesus replies, ‘I’m waiting for Judas.’ In the words of today’s reading, Jesus is calling directly to me: ‘Come to me’. Jesus will wait for me, too, beyond the end of time.
    • What burdens weigh me down? Loneliness, illness, guilt, bereavement, depression, fear? What is preventing me handing these burdens to Jesus?
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    • After his disturbing words about the danger of missing the point of true discipleship, Jesus concludes with a gracious invitation: ‘Come to me!’ Let me listen to Jesus whisper that call to me. He uses my name; his face shows his love; the tone of his voice is one of purest welcome. I relax in this. Perhaps I may use the phrase as my mantra today.
    • Those who burden the weary are the religious leaders, with their emphasis on the Law. Jesus is not proposing a lax interpretation of the Law. But he interprets the Law in the context of love. The great command, he says, is that we should love God and neighbour, because God loves us all totally. Do I find ‘rest for my soul’ in this network of love?
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    • Most people would say that they are weary and weighed down with problems. Jesus offers himself as one who has his own burden, but is glad to shoulder my burden too.
    • The yoke was originally a term for Roman oppression of the Jews. People felt crushed by Rome’s demands. Jesus promises that if I join in with him, he will not be oppressive. I ask to feel the lightness and energy that he offers me.
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    • Lord, these lovely words are sometimes linked to a picture of you in pastel shades, in a montage of roses and golden light. But it takes strength and courage to remain gentle in face of false accusations and scheming enemies. It is you who are the strong one, not the screamers and war-mongers.