Wednesday, December 8, 2009

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

(Isaiah 40:25-31; Matthew 11:28-30)

In the 1960s an Episcopalian priest wrote a popular prayer book entitled Are You Running with Me, Jesus? Evidently the author felt more pressured by the demands Jesus seems to make than relieved by the rest Jesus offers in the gospel today. Therefore, he had to ask Jesus’ assistance in fulfilling his ministry.

Of course, we can count on Jesus to help us and should go to him in need. However, it is possible that we make too much of our own efforts and fail to find the comfort that Jesus offers us in his love. Often we can allow others to do the work that we arrogantly see only ourselves capable of performing. Also, it is possible to give more effective witness to Christ by retreating in prayer for a regular period everyday than by constant motion in meeting needs. Some of the most accomplished religious leaders of our times – including Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II – have seen their success in ministry flowing out of daily meditative prayer.

In his book on Jesus, Pope Benedict underscores this truth by claiming that in inviting others to find rest in himself, Jesus is proclaiming himself to be the Sabbath. But his Sabbath goes far beyond the relief we may experience on Sunday. He provides not just temporary relief from work but permanent release from anxiety. Jesus also puts a yoke on us: we are to love others with the same care and joy that he has for us. In this way, we place ourselves in an environment of goodness which, as Jesus claims, is easy and light to bear.