Taking the Time to Rest
I’d like you to take a moment and trace the past week of your life. Other than sleeping, did you take any intentional rest? We just finished the Independence Day holiday here in the United States. If you live in the US, did you squeeze in every last bit of work in the office before closing your computer for the holiday? Did you actually sign off from work for the holiday? Or did you try to multitask, only to find yourself zigging and zagging between sporting events, and reading work emails on your phone during backyard barbecues, without ever actually resting?
If you’ve ever felt more tired after a holiday than before, chances are that today, you feel like a burnt out sparkler. I have a consolation for you: today’s Gospel reading is especially for you because in it Jesus tells us to rest.
If we rest in Scripture today, we are privileged to hear a sacred conversation. We hear Jesus resting in prayer with the Father. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” Jesus says. The prayer in verses 25-27 is one of only three places in which Matthew records Jesus’ prayers with God the Father. The second instance is in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:39, 42), and the third is Jesus’s last words on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).
After concluding his prayer today, Jesus shares the intimacy of the relationship between Son and Father, with those around him. “[N]o one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt 11:27).
After this statement comes an invitation to rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Commentators note that the rest that Jesus gives is the peace which surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). It is also the invitation to discipleship, for we know that following Jesus brings “rest for your souls” (11:29). Through resting in Jesus, Jesus reveals the Father to us for Jesus opens up the possibility of eternal union with God in heaven.
The first step toward unity with God today is simple: just rest. Spend time with this Gospel passage. Resist the urge to check your phone and just rest. Accomplish in prayer what Jesus asks of you today: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden” . . . “Take my yoke upon you” . . .
“learn from me.” (11:28-29)