By Mark Ehrbar
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Today’s gospel reading from Matthew is one that I have probably heard, sung or prayed many times over.
I can’t think of any more of a deliberate message of comfort in the gospels.
Today’s readings reminded me of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s famed prayer Suscipe (the Latin word for "receive"). For me, Ignatius’ text could be seen as a human response to the texts presented to us today. Coming to Jesus can seem to be an elementary task, slightly short of a challenge. However, finding our best peace with God first requires us to act upon St. Ignatius' prayer. It is only when we have truly surrendered everything that we are and all that we have to God, that we can experience our own personal relationship with God. With this consideration, Jesus’ invitation in today’s gospel seems to require much more preparation.
Today the church celebrates St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
Looking at Kateri’s life, it seems she fully accepted today’s gospel. At a very young age, St. Kateri lost her whole family in a smallpox epidemic. Then, at the age of 19, converted to Catholicism and moved to a Jesuit mission in present-day Canada. Kateri, burdened by tragedy and disease, found rest in God and devoted to a life of prayer. She answered Jesus’ invitation and evidently lived what Ignatius says in Suscipe:
“your love and grace, that is enough for me.”
Kateri’s 17th century story of conversion of peace with God may seem irrelevant, historic or unattainable to us. Though inspiring, in a first reflection I cannot see how this can be applicable in my present day lifestyle as a millennial. But the truth is, Jesus’ invitation to “find rest in yourselves” is still presented to us in 2016. It is still pertinent, whether or not we can write a story in our lives like Kateri’s.
So today, in our busy lives in cities, navigating careers, balancing social lives, where can we come to Jesus?
Where do we need rest? What are the burdens we carry that Jesus can relieve? Where can we simplify to live as Ignatius did, to only for God’s love and grace? It is then that we can full accept the message of today’s Gospel. Through the intercession of St. Ignatius and St. Kateri, let us pray that we can be open to accept Jesus’ invitation.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me. (Suscipe by St. Ignatius of Loyola)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark is from Cleveland, Ohio and works at Gesu Catholic Church.