Dec. 7, 2016: Wednesday, 2nd Week of Advent A
Jesus said to the crowds:
“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.” (Matt 11:28-30)
Who cannot relate to this passage? The feeling of being tired and burdened can last all year and is simply more intense these weeks before Christmas. Yet Advent is the one time we really long to slow down and appreciate the season. We know that we celebrate at Christmas the mystery that holds for us great joy: the birth of our Savior. Children are innately happy, filled with eager anticipation--even the secular world celebrates this season of joy. We long to savor the gift, to get away from the frenetic pace so often connected with this season.
My parents, ever my spiritual models, years ago made the simple decision that they would no longer go to the expensive and exasperating mall-crawling, gift-giving route. They give a donation to charity, commit to daily Mass, and spend the rest of Advent a little more calm and less burdened as they visit family and friends.
In the midst of this hectic season, Jesus invites us to take his "light" and "easy" yoke upon our shoulders. But to take up his yoke, we shall have to lay down our own--there is no room for two. We shall have to lay down those "unnecessary anxieties" that weigh on us and squelch our joy. Jesus invites us to let go of whatever weighs us down. In my case this means my perfectionism, worry, unrealistic expectations. The meal doesn't have to be the best ever; sending cards can be a time of prayer for each person I write to; decorating can be done simply. If I could let go of useless anxieties, I could give more attention to the people and projects that genuinely merit it. I could give more time to prayer.
Lord Jesus, I fear that if mine is the first move I will never make it. If I must divest myself of my self-made yoke before I take on yours, where will I find the strength? But if you would help me here, if you would give me the grace to trust in your love, to trust in your strength and power to provide--if you make the first move, then I will have courage. Let me taste the sweetness of your yoke so my own pales in comparison and I willingly let it go to embrace yours.
Advent Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections by the Daughters of St. Paul