Today in the life of the church we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The gospel reading assigned to his feast day is Matthew 11:25-35. The second half of the reading, verses 28-30 are as follows:
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Verse 28 appears in the Book of Common Prayer on page 332 as part of the Rite I service of Holy Eucharist. This verse is part of a collection of four quotes (Matthew 11:28, John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 John 2:1-2) from holy scripture which may be said right after the absolution. Collectively these quotes are known as “The Comfortable Words.” They are to provide us with comfort and reassurance after we have confessed our sins to God and received absolution from bewailing, “our manifold sins and wickedness.” (BCP, 331)
I have to admit that I’ve never thought that the burdens Jesus bears were particularly light. Dying for the sins of the whole world never struck me as a particularly easy or enjoyable undertaking when all is said and done. That said, knowing that my savior would take my anxieties, sins, worries, fears and all the rest and relieve me of my burdens is indeed comforting.
How many times have you witnessed a loved one struggle with pain, suffering, or some other burden? And, watching them, wished out of love that you could carry their burden for them–that you could assume the pain they suffer with so that they no longer had to? This is what Jesus asks in Matthew 11:28-30.
When we offer up to God our hurts, pains, anxieties, fears, and all the rest, we are giving them to God. When we let God into those moments when we are burdened, even broken or crushed under the weight of our heavy load we are entering more deeply into the love of God for us. When we bear and unburden our souls before God, acknowledging that we are in need of help we are entering into a deeper relationship with God…and this is exactly what God wants.
In Christ’s name,