July 9th, 2017

Deacon Blaine Barclay

June 9th, 2017


“Comes 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 soul.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light;’’.

The poet, T.S. Elliot says, we are searching for, “A condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything’’.  This simplicity is the context of our gospel passage for today.  Jesus has just spoken of those things that are hidden from the wise and learned, meaning, those who think that they are wise and learned, filled with the pride and pretense of thinking that they know.  In contrast, these ‘hidden things’ are ‘revealed’, uncovered, unveiled, only for ’the little children’, ’infants’, ’the little ones’.  Jesus says elsewhere, ’’Unless you become like a little child you will never enter the kingdom of God’’.  Is this not the ’easy yoke’, the ‘light burden’ spoken of in today’s gospel?  Each of us longs for the simplicity and spontaneity of the child, their ‘lightness of being’, if you will.  This is why even the crustiest curmudgeon heart is filled with delight in the presence of a little child.  Children are delightful. They can be a lot of work as well, as any parent knows, but they remind those of us who are weary and carry heavy burdens, that it is possible to live in a different way, to be born again, to retrieve, not the naiveté, but the simplicity of the heart of the child.

In the intimacy of his life with the Father, Jesus lived this childlike simplicity. ’’No one knows the Father except the Son, and whoever the Son reveals him to’’.  The mutual delight of the divine intimacy is uncovered for us.  We are invited into this spiritual childhood, this reciprocal delight, but to do so we must let Jesus heal our wounded, weary hearts and lift our heavy burdens.

“Come to me”, he says and he speaks directly to the heart and situation of each one of us.  For who of us is not on some level ’weary’, tired, worn out, struggling, troubled?  Who of us is not ’carrying heavy burdens’, weighed down by the heavy load of grief, for example; I am thinking of a friend of mine who’s younger brother was very suddenly found dead in his apartment just the other day.  The burden of responsibility and worry for a terminally ill elderly parent.  I am thinking of the weariness of the parent caring for their sick child.  There is a saying about parenting that captures so well the happy burden of this vocation. ’You are only as happy as your most unhappy child’.  We do worry about our children, don’t we?  I’m thinking of the person weighed down by financial worries, the burden of poverty, of not being able to make ends meet.  And the flesh itself, is this not also a burden, a sometimes-heavy load, weighed down by illness, old age, the incessant tug of a bad habit, an addictive behavior pattern, and all our other incapacities.

Whatever the pattern and content of our ‘weariness’, and the ‘heavy burdens’ we carry, Jesus is speaking directly to each one of us. ’’Come to me’’, he says, ’’and I will give you rest’’.  What is this rest from our wariness and our carrying of heavy burdens that Jesus holds out for us?  Jesus is God’s Sabbath rest.  Come to him and lay down your burdens’. Enter into the childlike playfulness of his intimacy with God. ’’Be still and know that God is God’’.  Know that in Jesus, God has embraced the weariness and burdens of our humanity, our wounds, suffering, and even our death, right down to the bottom.  This is why he can say, “Come to me…  and I will give you rest’’.

How do we enter into this rest?  By ‘coming to him’ first of all, in prayer, in the Eucharist and other sacraments, in service to the least of these; these are all ways of cultivating the encounter with God in Christ, of resting in his childlike relationship with the Father.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me’’, says Jesus, ’’for my yoke is easy and my burden is light’’.  No longer, ’the yoke of the law’, the endless search for righteousness, as if we could make ourselves worthy, an impossible burden too heavy for any of us to bare.  The burden that Jesus holds out for us is ‘easy’ and ‘light’, like the heart of the child.

‘’Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart’’, he says.  Yoked with Jesus, we hope to be conformed to his character. ’’Blessed are the meek’’.  Meekness and humility are both noble and strong virtues, they are the virtues of childhood, of the heart that is radically open and available to receive the future from God in Christ. “Come to me…and I will give you rest”.