By Tina Sibbald
School is out; many book vacation time this month, and we enter a mindset very different from the fall, or the Christmas and Easter seasons. Life slows down for a little while, and we rest. Even the Gospel this week has that feel to it.
Ironically, the rest that Jesus offers us involves activity, not passivity. We are invited to take up the yoke of Jesus. In modern day farming it is tractors plowing fields, not oxen, but one can imagine how hard that work was. That doesn’t feel a lot like rest.
Sometimes it takes symbolism from a simpler time to make the point. Imagine being the only one attached to the yoke and pulling the weight of the plow. That plow symbolized life, and life is hard work, especially when we try to do it alone. So when Jesus invites us to share His yoke, do you think it is because He needs us to lighten His burden?
When we truly align ourselves with God, it is Jesus who does the heavy lifting. That’s how we find rest. While other obligations and workloads may lighten during the summer months, what a great opportunity there is to spend time aligning ourselves with, and getting to know Jesus in a fresh new way. Reading an uplifting book, taking a contemplative and prayerful walk in the park, paying a visit to someone who is home-bound, or volunteering at a lunch program are all great ways to find rest, and peace.
The summer season offers us a wonderful opportunity to take a deep breath and pause. Why not invite Jesus to be part of that? You may find more rest and peace than you ever thought possible.
Romans 8.9, 11-13
TALKING TO GOD
By Emily VanBerkum
I have spent a great deal of time contemplating Jesus’ words to his Apostles in today’s Gospel. Jesus commissions them to go forward and preach God’s Word by their very lives, not simply because they are told to do so, but as a result of their real, life changing encounter with Christ as God incarnate. Jesus’ words are poetic. “What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” To me, this is a clear sign that the road to bring others to Christ is not always a clearly defined or paved path.
To give encouragement, Jesus reveals something of God’s mercy and love by reminding them that God cares for even the smallest and cheapest offering made in the Temple and counts every last hair on our head. All are accounted for and embraced as part of God’s intended creation. Nothing willed by God is ever in vain. Therefore, we may sometimes feel confused by God’s action, or presumed inaction, in our lives. We may typecast God as being distant from us or as a “big picture” kind of thinker. And yet, to me, God is in all the little details of our lives.
Growing up, my parents would say a bedtime prayer before making the sign of the cross on my forehead and kissing me goodnight. They would not say anything scripted, but rather offered words from the heart usually expressing gratitude or would ask for God’s help. I am grateful to them for instilling in me the ability to really talk to God. In this way, God was always near, very personal, and intimately acquainted with my goings on. Our parish’s baptismal preparation program focuses on growing in relationship with God. Time, energy, care- these are but a few characteristics of how we build strong and healthy relationships with those we love. God is no exception. If we desire for God to be near to us, and to be receptive to God’s Word, it is essential that we dedicate to God and our faith lives the same time and energy we spend cultivating our other important relationships.
Allow today’s Gospel to be a reminder that no detail that weighs on our minds or hearts is too minuscule or insignificant to be overlooked by God. My prayer is for us all to recognize God’s actions both big and small and to talk to God as a close friend and confidant. Today, I share with you the words of Saint Alphonsus Liguori who offers us some direction:
“Become accustomed to talking to God as though you are face to face, familiarly, with confidence and love, as to a friend, the dearest friend you have, who loves you so much…There is no doorkeeper, for whoever wishes to speak to God; indeed, it is God’s pleasure that you should talk familiarly with God. Speak to God of your business, of your plans, of your sorrows, of your fears, and of all that concerns you. Above all do it, as I have said, with confidence and with an open heart, because God is not accustomed to speak to the soul that does not speak to God. Such a soul, being unused to dealing with God, will not well understand God’s voice when God speaks.”
…and the words of Venerable Dorothy Day: “If I have achieved anything in my life, it is because I have not been embarrassed to talk to or about God.”
PARTAKING OF TRUE FOOD
by Lucinda M. Vardey
When Jesus taught that his flesh is true food and his blood true drink, many of his followers left his community. Yet, in fact, Jesus was establishing the binding of community, the future church, the body of Christ. St. John Henry Newman said in a sermon that Jesus’ incarnation is a divine gift that visibly unites heaven and earth establishing a sacramental principle in the heart of Christian devotion.
On this solemn feast of Corpus Christi, we celebrate the gift of the sacrament of the Eucharist that nourishes our souls. True food fills us with the presence of Jesus, opens us to be transformed into a temple for the Holy Spirit and brings us into communion with all those who partake with us. But there is also much more that goes on beyond our reason or understanding.
This bread, this body of Christ is food that “endures for eternal life” (John 6:27) and partaking of it helps satiate our spiritual longing and hunger for God.
The following prayer is attributed to St. Ambrose
O Bread most sweet, heal the palate of my heart, heal it of all weakness and frailty through the sweetness of your love.
O Bread, most fair, that refreshes us and never fails, may my heart feed on you…
O holy Bread, living bread, enter my soul and heal and cleanse me within and without, then I will neither hunger or thirst because of being wondrously satisfied in you and by you.
Grant that this holy feeding on Your Body and Blood, of which, unworthy as I am, I propose to partake, provide the healthy bringing forth of fruit well pleasing to you.
Deuteronomy 8.2-3, 14b-16a
1 Corinthians 10.16-17