Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peace, God are already here: Advent Midweek Missal (2)

Matthew 11:28-30 
Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light. ” 

 Jesus is a giver not a taker  
Something written by Julian Norwich many centuries ago in a book called Revelations of Divine Love: stays with me: "Peace is always with us; but we don't always live in peace." There are few statements that better describe the reality of our spiritual work than this little proverb. In this second week of Advent, we may well have already experienced all too well the reality the 14th Century parish anchoress and spiritual friend was talking about. 

Without letting this verse from Matthew soak over into every part of us, the promise of rest just stays in our head swirling around. Nothing is accomplished by just wishing things were different. One time when I was on an individual retreat, my spiritual director suggested to begin the time away by resting instead of praying, studying, or reading, or anything else. If we are sapped of physical reserves and energy, then deep rest is where we need to begin. It is one way to say 'yes' to Jesus' invitation, "come to me."

The week's reading from the Roman Missal causes us to stop and to note the quality of the inner life we bring to any and all situations. The New Testament's insistence that the Lord is already here and "at hand" (Phil. 4) makes Advent an exercise in orienting and forming our lives around that reality. We do that by accepting Jesus' generous offer of life.

Here in Matthew 11, Jesus' invitation is in stark contrast to John the Baptizer's preaching in Advent. Some of John's audience is comprised of showy religious big wigs from Jerusalem, and others who abused the office and power of the Roman Empire. Jesus addresses the "little ones" here and wants nothing from them except that they come. This is good news, because many on the outside of our churches see Christians not as givers but as takers- with all the manipulation that implies.

The Lord has already come; the Lord is already here, and has never left! It's for us to simply come to Jesus, the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. Jesus the Christ wants nothing more or less than for us to be present, to be aware, and to be mindful of the Holy One's abiding, with us, in us, for us.  


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