Jun 30, 2011

14th Sunday: "Come to Me"

Has anyone ever said to you, “To know me is to love me.” Maybe you’ve said this to another person. We can take this well known phrase as a kind of arrogant response to someone who might say, “I just don’t get you!” It may be said between friends or between a courting couple who is pondering whether they should marry him or her. In the case of marriage, “what you see is what you get” so any dream of changing your future spouse may be a bit idealistic.

Another way we may understand this phrase is God speaking to us: “Once you know me, you will love me.” This Sunday, the 14th in Ordinary Time, brings us to more than just knowledge of God. This Sunday we are invited to go beyond theological knowledge and academic language to see God as a living being in relationship with us.

In the Gospel of Matthew today we hear: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

This is something beyond mere theory or speculation as is the stuff of any science. This sounds like an invitation – “Come to me . . .” We are invited into intimacy with the divine. That is a tall order to say the least. How can we mere humans have any sort of meaningful relationship with a supreme being? In Christ Jesus we can.

We Catholics sometimes feel that our faith is so full of rules, regulations, with “do’s” and “don’ts” that we always need to remind ourselves that without a personal relationship with God, we would be nothing but empty ritual or a legalistic nightmare!

This Sunday’s beautiful readings invite us to see God as a living being with whom we can have a relationship. This makes the Christian faith unique in that God is not distant from us but invites us to him: “Come to Me . . .”

In this world where life can be so crazy, fractured, and confusing it may be tough for all of us to live the best life we can. Much of it depends on our attitude – on how we approach life itself. Jesus invites us to come to him to find an easy yoke. We can go many ways these days, and many of us do now and then, but in the end we need to come back to what really matters and what will really support us. We want to do the best we can and the only way to achieve that completely is to always seek the “greatest good” who is God himself.

The “yoke” Jesus refers to is literally the way of the Gospel he shows us. It “fits well” as is the literal translation of the Greek in which John’s Gospel was written. It is a yoke that he shares with us. Like the oxen who walk together side by side as they work in the fields with a yoke tied around their shoulders, Jesus walks with us and beside us. He shares intimately with us in our joys and sorrows and he shows us the way to go. His yoke becomes our yoke.

In the teachings of the Church, in the voice of our conscience, in the events of our life we always walk with the yoke of Christ about us as the best fit for our life choices.

Is this what faith is for you? A personal relationship with God that is fleshed out in our lives through Word, Sacrament, and faith in action?

God knows what he wants with us – Do we know what we want with him? “To know me is to love me” says the Lord.

Let’s not forget to give thanks this 4th of July week for the gift of freedom and pray always for our nation and peace in this troubled world.