“They Will Renew Their Strength”
Is. 40: 25-31
Mt. 11, 28-30
Isaiah and Matthew are so hope-filled.
“Though young men faint and grow weary
And youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength
They will run and not grow weary,
Walk and not grow frail.” Such promise!
And then in the Gospel Jesus extends the invitation we all await:
28a “Come (over) to me.”
What a sweet command. He invites us to enter into the divine sphere he has opened up –the life of union within the Trinity where we experience the thrill of having been known all along, as well as the mutual joy of fully giving and fully receiving.
Come to me you who are overburdened or harassed and helpless, troubled and abandoned (9:36) from the difficult business of living, burdened beyond your ability to bear. Jesus is appealing to our exhausted desire to change.
28b “and I will relieve you”
If we choose to enter the sphere of his presence, then the unnatural pressures of the world and ourselves begin to dissipate. Of ourselves we are in thrall to the tyranny of our own passions therefore we are susceptible to the world’s manipulation and the influence of the Evil one. But Jesus’s words have tenderness and power. In exchange for our weakness and arrogance he wants to give us himself! “The Lord has led me to waters of repose, he has restored my soul.” Ps. 22:2 This refreshment is the remaking of the human soul which only God can effect. Jesus if offering to make available the transforming friendship and intimacy of the very heart of God!
The catch is, one must respond in perfect freedom—leave behind the oppressive situation and go to Jesus.
So, how can we respond to such a sublime offer? Only the words of a psalm will do.
“How excellent is thy mercy, O God!
And the children of men shall put their trust under the shadow of thy wings…
And thou shalt give them drink from the river of thy pleasures
For with thee is the fountain of life:
And in thy light shall we see light.” Ps. 35:7-9
Jesus is offering more than relief, or temporary rest. Rather he offers the very strength and joy that are his that derive from his relationship with his Father—his very own energy where we may experience an inner expansion. He alone is the one who can give final repose which is within the restorative chamber of his Heart. Our human passion for lasting union with another can be fulfilled only in Christ. The most romantic and faithful human covenants will fall short. In him meet and embrace our desire for fullness of love and God’s desire to give away the fullness of love.
11:29a “take my yoke upon you”
Jesus invites us to take the gift, that is, the specific burden destined for our own stubborn necks. A yoke is a burden intended to produce a work; it connotes a pair—two bodies linked to perform a task. Take his yoke –which is the necessary means for my spiritual liberation.
But take my yoke with me, not alone, and become linked to the community of the divine persons. Become yoked to the destiny of the incarnate God. “He who loves me will be loved by my Father; and I will love him and disclose myself to him.” Jn. 14:21 The yoke is living the divine will together with Jesus. The disciple becomes the suffering servant of the Suffering Servant, sharing his space, his heart.
11:29b and learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart.
Gentle by learning how to bear the yoke of the divine will together with him.
11:29c “and you will find rest for your souls.”
Jer. 6:6 “Stop at the crossroads and ask, where is the way that is good?”
Rest is the fully realized condition of a thing once it has reached the supreme fulfilment of its nature. This can happen only in Jesus at the end of the process.
So we have the whole process beginning with coming to Jesus
assuming his yoke
learning his gentleness through intimacy
culminating in rest for our souls.
Jesus is both fulfiller and Fulfillment. St. Augustine cries: “You have made us for yourself O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
We no longer need to exhaust ourselves by choosing between self and others because we no longer belong to ourselves. Our appetites have become quiet now and receive the gift of peace.