December 11, 2019 – Wednesday 2nd Week of Advent
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121119.cfm)
What burdens are you carrying now? What makes you worry at the moment? What are those that you are most afraid of? These questions are surely relevant to us. They tell us about our dispositions and even would tell us about what we are hoping for. We hope to be liberated from our burdens, to be free from worries and anxieties. And usually we want them to disappear immediately.
A survey from blaze.com reveals the top reasons most people pray to God. The first two reasons according to the survey are (first) family and friends and (second) personal problems and difficulties. These two concerns are very much related. In fact, these two reasons reveal our burdens, worries and fears at the moment.
Thus, we ask God to help us in our problems and concerns. But, there is a danger around here. There is a temptation in us to think of a God who does magic and who can take away all those concerns that burden us.
Contrary to what we usually think of God, our readings today reveal the true character of God. God does not offer us magic what God offers us rather, is his gentle, empowering and understanding kind of friendship.
This is what the first reading reveals to us. The Book of Prophet Isaiah tells us of the everlasting God who does not grow tired or weary. God would even give us strength and life. Isaiah proclaimed this to the Hebrew people at that time when they had become hopeless because of the suffering they endured while at their exile in a foreign land. They displayed weariness and boredom because of the long wait of the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah reminded them of this God who never forgets for his knowledge is without limit. God is hope because God renews our strength.
This is what Matthew proclaimed in the Gospel. Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are tired and lonely!” Jesus invites us to come to him and to welcome him in our life that we may be liberated from our burdens and sins, to be free from worries and anxieties.
Jesus tells us that God does not terrorize us with his power nor subjects us with his influence nor does magic to remove all our difficulties at once. Jesus gives us a humble invitation to come to him as our friend – a true friend who is gentle, humble and compassionate, willing to walk with us.
Thus, when we come to Jesus and trust him to be our friend, then he offers us his yoke. At the time of Jesus, the yoke was put on the necks of two animals to plow the field for planting. There were usually two cows so that the weight becomes lighter and the plowing easier and faster. The yoke that Jesus speaks about is from this image. That yoke symbolizes the Gospel that we receive today – and that Gospel is Jesus the Lord himself.
In this way that Jesus offers himself as our friend who is with us. He is not promising us to remove all troubles in life at once, as his life was also filled with pain and suffering. He tells us today that though life may be filled with problems, worries and anxieties, fears and self-doubt, failures and insecurities, with shame and guilt, yet, we will never be alone in our struggle for he renews and strengthens us.
Jesus invites us to carry those troubles with him, to pull our burdens with him, to share our trials with him, to draw strength from him and to allow him to help us. In truth, the Lord does not do good things for us, but rather, he does great things with us. He does not do miracle for us but he does it with us.
Remember also, our experience with Jesus as our gentle and compassionate friend is not meant to be for us alone. Each of us who have experienced that friendship is called to be a friend to others. Yes, in return that experience with the Lord will allow us to become willing and generous friends – ready to cheer up a friend filled with doubts, ready to give comfort to a friend suffering from grief and sorrow, who has a listening heart to a friend who needs someone to talk to, so that we too will become God’s instrument of brining freedom and inner peace to our overburdened brothers and sisters in this Season of Advent and Christmas. Ok lang? Sana all.
Jom Baring, CSsR