Is anyone here searching for peace in their lives?
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. These are very comforting words for all of us to hear. But what kind of burdens are we carrying? In what way is the Lord going to give us rest?
The Lord gives us rest by offering us peace. In our first reading from Zechariah, we hear about how the future King who will come to us by riding on a Donkey. Many scripture commentators point out that the king who comes riding on a donkey is a sign of humility. And that certainly is true, but it also has another deeper meaning. Bishop Barron explains, in ancient times, the way Kings would enter into their cities depended on the situation. If it was a time of war, the king would enter in a grand way, on a great battle horse. But when a king would come in peace, he would come on a colt, or a donkey. He would come to establish peace.
And so Jesus says to us today, come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. If I were to take a poll right now I’m sure these would be some of the burdens each of us carry: frustration over the never-ending violence in the world and especially frustration over the violence in our own country, sadness due to broken relationships in our families, exhaustion due to the busy-ness of our lives, and finally, we are burdened by the reality of our own struggles with sin. I’m sure there are more examples, these are just some of the common ones we all experience. But Jesus wants us this weekend to know of His peace.
How do we obtain this peace? Jesus invites us to take on his yoke, to learn from him who is meek and humble of heart. It’s a strange image, isn’t it? Putting on a yoke evokes the image that we are servants or slaves. And in a sense that is true, we are to be servants of Christ. But here lies the paradox, we become servants in order to obtain freedom. We are christ’s slaves because he wants to break us free of from our chains and to take away our burdens. Putting on the yoke of Christ means putting on the yoke of freedom.
And it is through the yoke of freedom that Christ gives us peace. And so how do we experience this peace? First, we experience it here, together as a Christian community united by the bond of peace in the Eucharist. So, when we become frustrated with the violence in the world, we bring our prayers to the Lord in the Eucharist for peace in our world. When we experience division in our own families, we hand over our loved ones to God in prayer and trust that he will take care of them. And when we face the reality of sin in our own lives, we remember that Jesus heals us with these words, Peace be with you. As followers of Christ, we will continue to experience frustration, trials and suffering, but these burdens become lighter and more bearable with the Lord’s help.
The Lord truly does help us. I think of that beautiful scene in the Gospels, when Jesus is tired an carrying His cross. Eventually, he needs some help, and along comes Simone of Cyrene. This cross is not unlike the yoke we are called to wear. Christ’s message to us this weekend is that his yoke that we put on, means that he is with us to carry us through our trials, anxieties, and suffering to give us peace.
We hold on to the peace of Christ by staying close to Jesus in both prayers and in the Eucharist. May the Eucharist we receive today give us the spiritual peace we all seek.