Reflection on This Week’s Readings

WORK THAT RESTORES

What kind of rest is Jesus promising when he says, “Come to me, all you that are weary” (Matt. 11:28)? It isn’t about a day off, though given Jesus’ faithfulness to the Jewish Torah, sabbath rest is surely part of his vision for human life. But Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me” (Matt. 11:29). These are words that mean work: a yoke is what you put on oxen so they can pull a plow. These words don’t sound like rest! But they invite us to do the work that really matters, instead of the work that only wearies our bodies and souls.

Jesus invites us to take on his teaching and his way of working for the kingdom. He is gracious to those who follow him in this labor. He does not put impossible tasks on people or reject people because they are not perfect. This is how he brings rest for weary souls. This is what makes his burden light.

Jesus also invites his followers to join him in doing the work that matters, the labor that satisfies: loving our neighbor, caring for the needy, seeking justice for those excluded, feeding the hungry, forgiving those who do harm, seeking liberation for people who are oppressed, teaching others that God is love for all. This is work that might make your body weary but will give life to your soul. This work might make you tired by the end of the day, but it is the kind of tired that feels satisfying and leads to good, restful sleep.

To follow Jesus is to find ourselves working for the things that matter to our hearts and to God. What a gift to follow such a gracious, gentle, and humble Lord.

From sundaysandseasons.com.

READINGS FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

Our Sundays continue to hear honest words from Matthew and Reformation theology from Paul. For citizens of the United States, the week prior included Independence Day, which celebrates a worldview quite different from that presented in the readings.
This beloved passage, “Come to me, and I will give you rest,” contrasts with the earlier sentence, that Christians are indeed wearing the yoke of Christ. Some Christians have found such biblical passages about the Father’s enigmatic will as fundamental to their faith.
Year A has already heard from this passage in the processional gospel for Passion/Palm Sunday, since Matthew cites this prophecy of a king arriving in Jerusalem on a donkey as fulfilled in Jesus. On this Sunday, the passage says that only the true king will bring peace. Thus the passage is linked with Jesus’ promise of rest.
Usually in Paul the Greek word translated as “you” is plural, but in this section, Paul admits to the personal daily struggle of the baptized life. Aware of this “war” within our very selves, we gladly come to the gospel’s word of rest in Christ.
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