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The restful peace we need is available every moment, because Jesus is with us every moment.

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A Reflection for:

Thursday of the 15th Week of Ordinary Time
July 19, 2018

Today's Saint Quote: Saint Arsenius the Great

Strive with all your might to bring your interior activity into accord with God, and you...

Today's Prayer:

Lord, I need to be docile to give You my pain and worries, trusting that Your love transforms everything. Amen.

Today's Readings:

Isaiah 26:7-9,12,16-19
Ps 102:13-21
Matthew 11:28-30
www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071918.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/18_07_19.mp3

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Finding rest in the yoke of Jesus

Are you weary? Weighed down and exhausted by family problems, trials at work, challenges in ministry, or maybe even spiritual attacks against your soul? Jesus said in today's Gospel passage, "Come to me when you are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you." We can rest by taking his yoke upon us.

What? Sounds like more weight to me!

Jesus' yoke is humility -- i.e., enduring trials with gentleness, patience, forgiveness, going the extra mile. But this seems like a very heavy yoke; how will it refresh us? How could it lighten our loads?

Today's first reading speaks for our yearnings: We long for God's peace. We want a smooth way through rough problems. We feel like the woman in labor, pushing painfully for hours but expelling only gas. (Isaiah used the word "wind", but don't you think he might have been referring to that stinky wind our bodies expel?)

Actually, the restful peace we need is available every moment, because Jesus is with us every moment. In accepting his yoke upon us, we bond ourselves to him. Since he is the stronger one of the team, the weight of the yoke presses more heavily on him than on us. Our burdens feel lighter. If we don't strain against the yoke by pulling Jesus in our own direction, he leads us into the kingdom of everlasting goodness through his power, his strength, and his energy.

Life's pains are easier to endure when we realize there's a bigger picture. As we plow with Jesus through troublesome fields, we are helping to sow the kingdom of God, making a difference for all of eternity. That's awesome! If we could see where Jesus is taking us with our plows, we'd be grateful about the new crop that will grow. But we can't see the future -- if we could, we'd probably ignore the fruitful harvest, focus on the sweat of the labor, drop the yoke and run.

We have to trust, instead, on the promises God is providing for our encouragement: "You will find rest for yourselves," he says. The Bible is full of promises that are guarantees meant to strengthen us and keep us plowing forward through whatever it takes to produce wonderful fruits.

We can either moan and complain about the trials, or we can forgive those who make our lives difficult. Forgiveness is the key to finding the peace of Christ that is rightfully ours. Forgiveness often requires a lot of effort, though, a lot of digging into our humility where we can find the willingness to forgive, a willingness that already exists deep beneath our pain.

The deeper we plow with Jesus, the stronger our muscles become. And the more we use these muscles, the lighter the burden feels.

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© 2018 by Terry A. Modica
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