(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Saturday 6:00pm; Sunday 9:00am)
5/6 July 2014
(Readings: Zech 9:9-10; Ps 144; Rom 8:9, 11-13; Mt 11:25-30)
Today in Australia we celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday, and today marks the beginning of NAIDOC week. 2008 will long be remembered as the year our Prime Minister made the national apology to the Indigenous people of our land, thereby acknowledging the harm that had been done by policies and practices of former times. Saying Sorry is an important step in the ongoing work of reconciliation among all peoples of our country. Today it is more than appropriate, then, to acknowledge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters, and especially the traditional custodians of this land on which we gather; we offer prayers today for all of us who call Australia home, that we might always work together in respect, seeking the good of all.
In our Gospel today Jesus promises something that I’m sure all of us would like: rest for our souls. I’m sure we know, in our lives, the opposite of what Jesus speaks about: restlessness. When we look back over our lives we can probably see those times when we were rest-less: when we hadn’t found where we were going, when there wasn’t a peacefulness in our hearts. When we haven’t found our place in life – or when through the choices we make we know we aren’t on the path we should be on – there can be an agitation in our hearts; we feel that things aren’t right; we know we need to do something about it.
Jesus issues an invitation: COME TO ME he says, and you will find inner peace … your soul will rest – it will be calm, not agitated, not restless. LEARN FROM ME, Jesus says, for I am gentle and humble.
I think this is an important part of the Gospel that we need to hear and be reminded of. Christianity is often characterized by action: Christians are known for their ACTIONS, what they do … we think of key Christian actions of LOVE, FORGIVENESS, SEEKING JUSTICE. To be Christian is to DO or not do things. Christianity is expressed in practical action.
But prior to any action, and after any action, to be a Christian is to be in a living, personal relationship with our Master, Jesus Christ. And so Jesus’ invitation through St Matthew is vitally important: COME TO ME! LEARN FROM ME! Especially if we are burdened, weighed down, restless, searching … we must come to HIM whose yoke is easy to bear, and whose burden is light.
In our second reading today St Paul encourages us to reflect on our lives. Paul knows that sometimes our interests are not in spiritual things at all. So many things can clamour for our attention – and so many things can come to rule our lives – things which don’t need to be obeyed at all. St Paul reminds us that the Spirit of God is living in each of us, and that Spirit wants to lead us to true life – to the things that really matter.
The invitation is always held out to us that we will become more aware of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. And amidst all the many things that call out for our attention in life, and that draw us to follow them, we’re invited to hear again, or perhaps for the first time, the VOICE of Jesus, speaking personally to each of us: COME TO ME, LEARN FROM ME.
When we hear that voice, and when we try to discover what Jesus wants us to DO in our lives, then we find a peacefulness – a restfulness in our inner selves – a peace that can only come from listening to the voice of the Lord, and learning from him.
The more we draw closer to Jesus, the more our lives will be transformed – the more the Spirit can give life to us. Imagine: if all hearts drew near to Jesus, then the prophecy of Zechariah in our first reading would come true: the weapons of war would be gone; and peace would come for all nations. What a wonderful thing to imagine: the empire of Christ, who is gentle and humble in heart, his empire stretching from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth!
We must start with ourselves. Today Jesus says to each of us: COME TO ME … LEARN FROM ME. The tools have been given to us … our personal prayer, our reading of scripture, the Mass and the Sacraments of the Church; and the support and encouragement we give to and receive from other followers of Jesus.
The heart of Jesus, filled with love, draws us to himself. Let us come to him, and let us find the peace, and the restfulness, that we can only FIND by going to him, by learning from him and following his ways.