Sunday 5th July – Fourth Sunday after Trinity
by the obedience of Jesus
you brought salvation to our wayward world:
draw us into harmony with your will,
that we may find all things restored in him,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle-bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.
Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30
At that time Jesus said, ‘To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another, ” We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
Post Communion Prayer
comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken,
you have fed us at the table of life and hope:
teach us the ways of gentleness and peace,
that all the world may acknowledge
the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Trinity 4 2020 – Reflection
‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
These are certainly well-known words from scripture, yet what might they mean?
Well, firstly there was the written Law, as contained in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, and Jesus would, in all probability, have happily assented to this. But alongside the written Law was something called the ‘oral law’. It was to explain and define what the written Law meant.
And there were thousands upon thousands of rules and regulations. The point is that the Pharisees gave equal authority to both the Law of Moses and the oral law. But for Jesus, the oral law, these man-made rules as he called them, was a burden and a yoke, grievously heavy to bear. It had transformed religion from God’s good design for life to a legalistic all-encompassing rule-book.
Jesus recalls us to the basics – love for God and love for our neighbour. Christianity is not a rule book, but a generous response, to people and situations where that response is led by love. Please don’t misunderstand me; Christianity isn’t easy. To truly love God, and truly to love our neighbour is costly. Jesus’ compassion, his healing power, his preaching and teaching, his practical serving, all cost him something. His great act of atonement and reconciliation cost him his very life.
Jesus’ words are first of all a call to simplicity: as human beings living in society, we build our lives on principles, rules and laws, and we think that this will help us to grow. Yet, these laws and rules are necessary, but their existence cannot lead us to lose sight of the only reason why we need them: to reinforce our love for God and for our neighbours.
What Jesus invites us to discover is to do by love what we have been taught to do by duty, and this is simplicity, because, in this way, our only rule is the love of God. Too often, however, people often fulfill their duties simply by being dutiful, seemingly without freedom, who forget the spirit of their rules and laws and instead cling to its letter. This is precisely the reproach Jesus made to the Pharisees: to lose sight of the centre implies to make things more difficult. Therefore, against the Pharisees who made the ancient law more oppressive, difficult and heavy, Jesus invites his disciples to take upon themselves his yoke, which is simple and light: the spirit of the law, which is love. Deeper than the letter, which may seem heavy, lies the Spirit, which invites us into a life of freedom, aware of our boundaries and limits.
Jesus invites us, then, to take his yoke and to embrace simplicity by having only one rule: his rule of love.
When we find ourselves weary from struggles, pains and disappointments, Jesus’ invitation, ‘Come to me’ is always open, especially when we really need the peace, rest and protection of God’s love.
Inside each of us is a space for the divine. We can ask God to come into our hearts and to fill them with what only God can give. In that secret place heart speaks to heart. Ask today for what you want and be open to what God sees best to give you.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.