When Burdened, Be With Him

Thomas Griffin (7/5/20)

Matthew 11:25-30 – Sunday Gospel

Lately, people are burdened, frustrated, and discouraged due to the current state of society and the rise of a culture that appears to be unrecognizable at times. Many newsrooms, websites, and voices across the country are claiming these times are among the worst that we have seen. 

Yes, times are tough and the view of the road ahead appears to be rough. What is not new, though, is humanity dwelling through hardship and tribulation. At the heart of the Christian message is the promise from God, the promise of Jesus this Sunday, that following him makes suffering powerless.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus declares that the “hidden things” of God’s reign have been revealed to those who are childlike and not to those who are great, powerful, or learned in the eyes of the world (Matthew 11:25). To see God and follow the ways of Jesus we must be like children; not foolish and immature but trusting, curious, and open to the greatness before us in each moment. 

Young children are not concerned with what others think or wrapped up about utility and what they “get” out of each circumstance. They simply dive into the present moment. Christ calls us today to go to him because humanity instinctively desires relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Most of the time, though, we are too learned, too wise, and too practical for our own good. Today, we are asked to simply go to him.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). When we arrive at the feet of the Savior we will desire to unload on him all of our hurts, fears, and anxieties. The Pew Research Center reported that 55% of Americans pray every single day while another report noted that 74% of people pray for their own personal difficulties and challenges. 

The facts are that when we pray, we ask for God’s help with what is most burdensome in our lives. The most common form of prayer, by far, is handing God our petitions. Today’s Gospel provides Jesus’ response to this form of prayer: he asks that we simply come to him. 

Often, the constant focus on what we need takes the spotlight off the One we are with. Jesus, knew this to be the case. He knew that we ought to bring him our needs, but he also knew that what we need the most is to experience his abiding and unfailing presence. Christ tells his listeners that our worries belong to him because his “yoke is easy, and burden light” (Matthew 11:30).  

Bring him all that you need help with today, but even more so, bring him all that you are. Focus intensely on his presence, beside you. When we do that, and when we take up his “yoke,” he gives us the strength to take up our own crosses with the deep-rooted knowledge that the shadow below us is the reminder of his intense proximity. 

This will allow us to not simply ask for his help, but experience the power of his dramatic gaze.

Thomas Griffin teaches Apologetics in the religion department at a Catholic high school on Long Island and lives with his wife. He received a master’s degree in theology and is currently a master’s candidate in philosophy. He writes for several Catholic media outlets.

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