Gospel Matthew 11:25-30

I will give you rest

This is nice. This I can handle.

I get to the end of the working week particularly and a message like this is a nice one to hear. But then I read the following sentence and I am back to being somewhat on edge. ‘Take my burden on you…’ ‘Shoulder my yoke…’ Is it just me, or is Jesus trying to load me up with other responsibilities as well as the ones that already keep me occupied?

In my experience, there seems to be two Jesus’s that populate our imagination. One, I like to call ‘Hallmark Jesus’, or ‘Buddy Christ’, the Jesus who is your mate, who never challenges us and is always with us, offering Oprah Winfrey-esque advice about staying positive etc. The other Jesus of popular imagination is the one that emphasises the image of Jesus turning over the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple, and sees Jesus as overly concerned with finicky issues of private morality.

In fact, neither of these Jesus’s are adequate to the full portrayal that we have of Jesus in the Scriptures. There we have a Jesus who is caring and compassionate; who seeks after those who are outcasts, and dines with public sinners. But this Jesus is a polarising figure, not afraid to buck trends, break cultural taboos, and challenge those who feel that they are the holy ones. He offers a challenging word to everyone, calling all toward an ideal that, humanly speaking, is impossible. ‘Be perfect’, he says (Cf. Mt 5:8). Well, thanks very much mate!

But this is the great adventure to which we are called. The struggle for perfection, or sanctity, is not some impossible ask – Jesus actually offers us all the help we need. It requires our openness, and our willingness to accept his help. His yoke is easy, and his burden light.

Point to Ponder

‘[I]t would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity… [T]his ideal of perfection must not be misunderstood as if it involved some kind of extraordinary existence, possible only for a few “uncommon heroes” of holiness. The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual.

John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31