By Fr. Erik Esparza
“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.” Matthew 11:28-29
In this often fast paced busy life that many of us live, work and play it is refreshing to hear these words from the Gospel of St. Matthew. Who doesn’t need or want rest? But what type of rest is Jesus referencing? Rest is essential for our lives. Time keeps going, demands keep being made, and the clock seems to never stop. Days of worry often consume our lives and anxiety over uncompleted tasks drains us. In the midst of it all Jesus calls out to you and me to rest. This is not the type of rest where we go on a getaway vacation or kick back on the couch, although these are helpful from time to time. Rather, the invitation to rest is an invitation to be in His presence. Isn’t it so true that when we are enduring a difficult situation or experiencing a painful moment going to Jesus is the last place we go? First, we first try to fix or heal it ourselves. In so doing often times nothing changes or it becomes worse. It is only when at our wit’s end that we finally surrender and seek the presence of Jesus. Already discouraged, tired and upset we go to Jesus expecting a quick fix or an easy solution to our problems and difficulties. We put in a request like an order at a favorite fast food restaurant and expect results almost immediately.
When was the last time you really rested in the presence of Jesus? There are many ways to do this. Of course time with the Blessed Sacrament in adoration is very helpful as is extra time praying before or after Mass. Perhaps a long walk just talking to the Lord or finding a quiet place to sit and listen to what God is calling you to do. Offering a devotional prayer like the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet can help too, but don’t forget to slow down and really listen as you pray. Doing an examination of conscience at the end of your day can also help to see where you experienced and shared God that day while discerning how you can improve tomorrow. In the end true rest is not just bargaining or pleading with Jesus, but being one with Him in the silence of your heart. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said, “Even amid the ‘busy-ness’ and the stress of our daily lives, we need to make space for silence, because it is in silence that we find God, and in silence that we discover our true self. And in discovering our true self, we discover the particular vocation which God has given us for the building up of his Church and the redemption of our world.”
Remember you are blessed and called. Do not give up! Surrender your time and be in the presence of Jesus.
Now go forth and be a joyful witness!
Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director of Priest Personnel in the Diocese of San Bernardino and Priest Moderator of The Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Redlands.