Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
I will give you glory, O God my King,
I will bless your name for ever.
I will bless you day after day
and praise your name for ever. (R./)
The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures. (R./)
All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O God. (R./)
The Lord is faithful in all his words
and loving in all his deeds.
The Lord supports all who fall
and raises all who are bowed down. (R./)
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh- for 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.
At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. "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."
"Put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee" was the refrain of a popular Gospel song some years back. Putting your hand in somebody else's is a gesture of intimacy, which is very characteristic children with their parents. To a loving father or mother a child will give its hand unquestioningly, with complete trust. Holding his or her father's hand there is nowhere the child will not venture. It is not only willing to be led, but positively wants to be brought somewhere. Somewhere in the growing up process we outgrow our dependency on our parents, and having lost the need for their guidance, even God can become remote for us. Only those who are children at heart can fully understand what Jesus tells us about God -- that God reveals Himself to "mere children."
Growing up means ceasing to be dependent. We exchange a child's dependence on people for an adult's dependence on things, like money, alcohol, success and influence. But these props are notoriously fickle and the adult world is often plagued by stress and anxiety. Our props may provide temporary relief but can still leave us -- as Jesus puts it -- "labouring and burdened;" labouring under illusions of grandeur and burdened with unrealistic targets. The heaviest load we have to carry is that of our own unfulfilled ambitions, the burden of our bruised egos. Only a return to humility can restore our lost innocence and our lost paradise., that honest humility that accepts our creature-status, our status as children before God. To enjoy the peace of Christ we must "put our hand in the hand of the man from Galilee', who guides us along life's journey and helps us to find the way home.
'Come to me', he says, 'all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.' In spite of all our problems, we trust him when he says, my yoke is easy and my burden light.
1) «Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest».
This is the first of three invitations from Jesus, in today's wonderful Gospel. It’s directed toward all those who live their religion as a heavy burden. Not a few Christians live beaten down by their conscience. They aren’t great sinners. They simply have been taught to have their sin always before them and they don’t know the joy of God’s continuous forgiveness. If they meet Jesus, they will find themselves relieved. There are also Christians who are weary of living their religion as a worn-out tradition. If they personally meet Jesus, they will learn to be alive, trusting in God as Father. They will discover an inner joy that they don’t know yet. They will follow Jesus, not out of obligation, but out of attraction.
2) «Shoulder my yoke… it is easy, and my burden is light».
That is the second invitation. Living in the presence of Jesus doesn’t weigh anyone down. On the contrary, he frees up what‘s best in us, since he proposes that we live our lives making them more human, worthy, whole. It’s not easy to find a more passionate way of living. Jesus frees us from fear and pressure, he doesn’t bring them in; he makes our liberty grow, not our slavery; he awaken in us trust, never sadness; he draws us to love, not toward laws and precepts. He invites us to live by doing good.
3) «Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls».
That is the third invitation. We need to learn from Jesus how to live like him. Jesus doesn’t complicate our life. He makes it clearer and simpler, more humble, more whole. He offers rest. He never puts onto his followers something that he hasn’t lived himself. He invites us to follow him on the same path that he has walked. That’s why he can understand our difficulties and our struggles, he can forgive our stupidities and our faults, always encouraging us to get up again.We need to focus our efforts to promote a more vital contact with Jesus in our communities that are so in need of courage, rest, and peace. Sadly it is precisely their way of understanding and living religion that leads so many, almost inevitably, to not know the experience of trusting in Jesus. Think about so many people who, both within and outside of the Church, live «lost», without knowing at what door to knock. Surely Jesus would be good news for them. (José Antonio Pagola)
Who are those who labour and are heavy-burdened? It is easy to forget that so many people still fit that description. Our children might no longer work in mines, and we no longer turn our fields by hand, but many workers have to put in do long hours of demanding work. Just to provide the basics of food and shelter is still a heavy load for many people.
In a contemporary setting, Jesus might well have invited those who were exhausted and stressed, who belong to the "Squeezed middle class". Struggle is as much a part of everyday life today as it was at any time in the past. It is also as silent and ignored as it has always been. This is not surprising. Those who are labour and are heaven-burdened are unlikely to tell you they are exhausted and stressed. What use is faith when you truly exhausted and stressed? Having something to believe in is essential and finding comfort in faith can be a good start. If that faith makes you dutiful in your dealings, quick to forgive, kind in your exchanges and conscious of your own dignity, you have accepted the invitation of this Sunday’s Gospel.
We should see ourselves as more than the sum of our achievements and our troubles. Faith allows us to re-humanise ourselves and remember that we are more than whatever makes us feel helpless, isolated and unappreciated. If you can truly believe in your own redemption, it is easier to embrace every new day with hope. (Fergal Jennings)