Dear sisters and brothers in Christ.
The Holy Bible is the word of God. We know it full well. We learnt it in our religion and Catechism classes.
God speaks to us in Sacred Scripture. In it and through it, he tells us everything we need to know to reach the fullness of life. Sacred Scripture is a great love story. It tells us about the love of God for creation and, in particular, for each and every one of us, created in his image and likeness, with a special vocation to fully participate in His own life.
The Bible records the action of God in history, in creation, choosing a people and then, finally entering Himself into time and space to transform the history of the world from within.
The Bible also has human authors who received special graces from God that preserved them from error, so that despite the limitations of those who wrote the different books of the Bible, the message that God desires to communicate to us about Himself and about us, may be transmitted faithfully.
Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh. He is true God and true man. Thus, as St. Jerome used to say, to know the Bible is to know Jesus. He is the central character of Sacred Scripture. In the Bible, everything speaks to us about Him and He, Himself, speaks to each and everyone of us. The sayings of Jesus found in the Gospels, which have reached us through the testimony of eyewitnesses, recorded by the Evangelists, are of utmost importance, because it is God Himself who is uttering them. They came out of the lips of God made flesh.
This Sunday, we find a saying of the Lord in the fragment from chapter 11 in the Gospel according to Matthew that is particularly important and ought to be remembered always. He tells us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
It is a statement that we ought to bear in mind especially during those moments when we experience tiredness, discouragement, when the task ahead is daunting or the challenges seem impossible to overcome, when we are oppressed by injustice or torn by pain.
I remember during the year 2005, while still a seminarian, I was invited to attend a conference at the church Our Lady of Mercy in the city of Pergamino (Argentina). It was about the Marian devotion of Manuel Belgrano, an Argentine hero, creator of the national flag. At the time I was worried about different matters that made me restless. When I walked inside the church, I immediately noticed a statue of Jesus carrying the cross and the verse from chapter 11 in the Gospel according to St. Matthew engraved on the wall. I must admit that, until that moment, I knew the saying, but I would have been unable to tell anybody where exactly to find it. From that moment on, the reference remained engraved in mi mind. Not only it was the answer to my restlessness, but I realized that they were not just pious words, a marketing gimmick to promote a product, they were not an empty promise or idle words such as those that abound in mass media, catalogs and speeches. No, it was God Himself who was uttering them and addressing them to me.
In contrast with whatever I may say, or anyone of us could say, not only that locution, but every single word of Jesus is conscientious, deep, loving, merciful, healing and saving.
We must take very seriously every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord, at face value. It is not about being fundamentalists, but about acknowledging that when Jesus speaks in the Bible, God addresses me. What He is telling me is true and it is also a word of life, alive and life-giving.
Is there anybody among us who, in these days of pandemic, social conflict and difficulties in employment or reduction in income has not experienced moments of anxiety, doubt, exhaustion, burden?
It is not just the threat of the virus or the uncertainty about the future due to the economic impact of the lockdown. Several persons who are recovering from addictions told me about the enormous difficulties and temptations they are experiencing these days. I have been told that sales of alcohol have skyrocketed. Not to mention pornography, which is already endemic, easily accessible through the computer, which is now, according to an article in the newspaper, offered at a discount.
In the face of this oppressive and bleak reality, this Sunday Divine Providence offers us the words of the Lord: “Come to me.”
Surely, we must go to Him. Of course, because as St. Peter says in chapter 6 in the Gospel according to John, if we do not go to Jesus, “to whom shall we go?”
To go to Jesus is to draw near to Him in prayer, to listen to Him in Sacred Scripture, to find Him in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist where He gives Himself to us and in Confession where He offers us his pardon and mercy; to visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament whether when He is exposed for adoration or at any other moment when we can visit Him because He is waiting for us captive, a prisoner of love, in the tabernacle of any parish church or chapel.
I am always amazed whenever I am walking at night praying the rosary and I see people leaning against the closed doors of the church in an attitude of prayer. How big their faith! How much love for Jesus Christ truly and substantially present in the Eucharist! How big a desire to draw near to Him!
To serve the neighbor, especially those most in need, is also to go to Jesus, because He tells us in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, what you did to them, you did to me.
In times of fatigue, discouragement, conflict and pandemic, when we are hurting and feel overwhelmed, that is when we need Jesus Christ, Lord of history, the most. Let us listen confidently to His voice in the Gospel this Sunday inviting us to go to Him! Our difficulties will not magically disappear, but our burden will become lighter, our yoke will be more bearable, because we will find the God of life walking at our side. He takes us by the hand because, as the Psalm for this Sunday proclaims, He is a faithful and loving God who lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
Fr. Roberto M. Cid