Proper 9 Year A
Matthew 11: 25-30
Chapter 11 of Matthew’s gospel.
Jesus’ ministry is in full swing: mountaintop sermons, multiple healings, cmmissioning of Twelve Apostles, wrestling matches with unwilling towns, i.e. connection after connection.
If Jesus had a Facebook page, it would be bursting at its edges! [Aaaah, a good question: if the Incarnation had occurred in our time, would Jesus have a Facebook Page and a Twitter account? Hmmmm.]
And here, in the midst of everything —in particular, contrasted with the inhospitality of his own people— a surprising, surprisingly intimate moment, a conversation with the Father —and we get to eavesdrop!
Jesus thanks the Father for sharing His secrets with those whom one might not expect: not leaders of his people, but with the child-like. In so doing, Jesus reveals the key to receiving the secrets of God: being child-like.
Is that it?
You mean: no ascetic practices, no social justice fight, no theology degree,
no moral perfection, no yogic stillness, no perfect church attendance?
No: these are all secondary—important, perhaps even intrinsic, but secondary.
Children are not ascetic or engaged in justice campaigns, have no degrees, are not morally perfect nor can sit still, and, on their own, would probably not attend church because too boring J. The child-like: those who trust, who judge not, who welcome.
Now, what is beautiful, and so hope-filled, is that God actually wants to share his secrets. It is His wish. He does not need to. God, however, is love, and love, by nature, radiates. God simply wants to share His secrets, and His true(est) secret is Himself: God opens His mystery to each of us. And thus the great(est) secret in our lives is God, is Christ.
Thus, from this intimate conversation with the Father, Jesus extends the unconditional invitation that we read in verse 28. “Come to me.”
You will notice, as suggested, that there are no contractual terms: “Come to me all you who can pay dues, or all you who understand the divine mysteries, or all you whose track record is impeccable and have your act together.”
Au contraire, we are invited to “come” as we are, indebted, misunderstanding, hobbling, incomplete. “all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens” What an invitation!
There is one unusual condition in the un-conditional invitation, however. If we are to experience the rest of which Jesus speaks, rest that comes directly from His heart. we must take upon ourselves His yoke and His burden. And this is where Jesus loses me. Another yoke does not equal rest! And, so, I respond, “Jesus, if you give me your yoke and your burden, I’ll be pressed to the ground, and will never find rest.”
Well, if ever there were a man of his word, it is Jesus. And, Jesus promises rest—somehow, in taking His yoke upon us. This, of course, can only make sense if the yoke, is, in fact, a source of liberation and strength. What liberates and strengthens? Love.
Now, which act of Jesus—although burdensome at one level for a time, in fact, supremely communicates divine love? The Cross. The mystery of the Cross.
And so, I think Jesus says, “Meet me at the Cross.” Which does not translate:
“Meet me, in your imagination, in Jerusalem.” or “Meet me in your ascetic attempts at imitating the Cross”.
Instead, “Meet me in my pouring forth of divine love —which can even occur in your suffering.” The love that Jesus poured forth at the Cross is eternal. The horrific pain that he endured at the Cross was momentary. The love liberates and strengthens, and attracts us to Jesus, who says—unconditionally—“Come to me”.
He is gentle and humble in heart. We need not fear. He invites us to be yoked to Him, to be bound to Him like Rebekah to Isaac. He invites us to clothe ourselves with Him—as St. Paul says (I Corinthians 15:53), “the perishable with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality”.
If we accept the invitation, we are set free from all that keeps us from loving, i.e. burdens of the heart, and we find rest for our souls. Our souls can only find rest in our Source, in God, our home. “Come to me.” “Come home.”
We have only to let ourselves be drawn, to accept the invitation. Jesus will take care of the rest. Jesus deposits His Spirit within us Who, within us, “takes care of the rest”.
Let us then rejoice greatly. Let us shout aloud! Our King comes to us, and His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. Triumphant and victorious, gracious and merciful, a humble savior is He.