Dec. 13: The things we carry

Dec. 13: Second Wednesday of Advent

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

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Whenever I find myself tempted to judge or criticize friend or stranger, I try to remember the saying that a dear friend used to have taped inside her kitchen cabinet: ”Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."  (This may or may not be attributable to J. M. Barrie, of Peter Pan fame.)

That curt cashier might be behind on the rent, the slow-to-respond teacher may be exhausted by caring for an aging parent, the driver who cut me off is perhaps rushing to the hospital to be with a family member. Most of us, despite our public faces, carry around private burdens. Job insecurity, a family secret, an estranged friendship, financial worry—this is the cargo of life that weighs us down (and the Greek for “burdened” here is related to ship’s cargo or lading). While we may cope much of the time, at certain moments—the holidays chief among them — it all begins to feel too much to bear. We sink under the weight of grief, or flounder in our anxiety, unable to settle our souls.

At such times, we can hang onto the comforting words of Jesus. He invites us to to release our heavy packages into his hands, and ourselves into his loving arms. There we will find respite, rest, or in Greek, anapausis—a word redolent with biblical associations. Here is holy rest: the cessation of activity that marks the Sabbath, the repose beside the “still waters” of the 23rd Psalm (literally, “the waters of anapausis”). All we need to do to is to let go of the things we carry.

Loving Lord, Relieve me this day of the burdens and sorrows that weigh down my soul, and give me the comfort of resting in you. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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