I Will Give You Rest. Will You Accept it?

Reading 1 EX 3:13-20

Responsorial Psalm PS 105:1 AND 5, 8-9, 24-25, 26-27

Gospel MT 11:28-30

Growing up in Louisiana, (a hop, skip, and a jump away from a city called the Big Easy) I grew up knowing a thing or two about rest. I am also introverted and love spending time alone in thought, prayer, and reflection. Even as a young boy, I would go walking through our wooded backyard, feed the neighbor's farm animals bits of grass through the fence, and simply be at rest with my thoughts and curiosities as I roamed around in peaceful solitude.

Later in life, I gained a lifelong friend who I’ve watched graduate from climbing small trees to climbing giant mountains. He’s always been the adventuring wanderer, and I’ve always been the introspective wonderer. I remember once when we were young boys, we had spent a solid hour playing this game called “Break the Bacon," which is a fairly physically challenging trampoline game. Because of my great gift of rest, I was inspired to create a new trampoline game that was more suited to my temperament. When my friend asked what it was called, I told him it was called “Bask” and it is played by laying on the trampoline and basking in the sun. Now I expected him to shirk off my idea, but because I called it a game, he actually sat still and I got to rest. To my demise, however, it lasted only for a few minutes before my friend got bored and began once more causing my entire body to convulse due to his incessant jumping. Although we differed in many ways, we complimented each other very well. He taught me how to be more active and that day, for a moment at least, I taught him how to rest.

While I was naturally gifted at resting as a child, it’s become easy to forget how to do that as an adult. At times, even when resting externally, it’s easy to find that those things that steal my internal rest are still bouncing around in my mind. So how do we take what Jesus says in today’s gospel, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest,” and apply it to our lives?

I’ve always seen this as a personal invitation from Jesus to surrender--to enter into the peace that comes from understanding God’s immense love and mercy for me, and to allow that to give rest to my soul. When I take all that I have on my mind and my heart and take time to surrender each worry, concern, or intention to Jesus, I find deeper peace and an internal rest that restores my understanding that God is God and I am not. It reminds me that I am in the hands of a capable and loving Father who only wants what’s best for me. And it’s here that I find rest for my weary soul that was once heavy and is now lifted to experience the joy and freedom of trusting in God.

It’s easy for us to question where God is in the midst of a world riddled with so many painful struggles. And it’s easy to become so dependent on ourselves or things of this world to satisfy us. It’s much more difficult to ask ourselves where we are. It’s more difficult to examine our lives and our actions. It’s hard to admit that we’ve been trying to carry it all on our own and failing. It’s hard to admit that we don’t hear God because we’re not taking the time to listen to Him in prayer and through sacred scripture. The question isn’t whether God is going to give us the rest we desire, but rather, the question is whether or not we will take Him up on His invitation.

I invite you to take two minutes right now to call to mind the heavy burdens you’re carrying and after each one say, “Jesus, please take this from me and give me your rest in return.” Do that when you are stressed and anxious and notice what happens. When I actually take the time to do this, I receive a renewed trust in my relationship with Christ and the internal rest that I truly long for. I pray the same will be given to you. Just as I invited my friend to rest as a kid that day on the trampoline, Jesus invites us to do the same interiorly, and he says to us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

-Eric Wilkes