Today’s Gospel from Matthew is a short statement from Jesus that always has a powerful effect on me. Jesus invites the crowds, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” It is an invitation that I feel to the depth of my being at times when I’m feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
The tendency at those times is to sink within ourselves to see only me and my challenges and difficulties. When the gaze is all on me and my difficulties, the burden can seem unbearably heavy. It can seem impossible to carry. But if I can let myself see Jesus in those moments, the burden becomes much lighter. If I can let myself be with Him, to rest in Him, I am refreshed and strengthened.
The reminder that our rest and our strength is in Christ is one we all need now and then. The first Mass reading this Gospel is paired with is the beautiful passage in Isaiah (among the wonderful things about Advent is hearing Isaiah proclaimed every day) where we are told that God “gives strength to the fainting,” renewing our strength so that we can “soar as with eagles’ wings.” With the strength of God, we can “run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.”
The invitation to come to Christ – to be refreshed and recharged, to be strengthened by him, is always on the table. It is for us to decide whether to accept the invitation.