MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on an alternative lifestyle. What does Jesus want from us as we lay our burden down on him? It doesn’t mean what you think. Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Matt. 11:25-30. #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #DoThatHolyThang #LayYourBurdenDown #Christian
MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/6/2014 The 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 11:25-30.
It took me a while to not feel awkward when I began to say grace over my meals in public. I stop. I put down my gadgets, my fork, my glass. I pause. Then I pray over my food, thanking God for everything. Sometimes, I catch people staring at me like I am some “religious freak.”
When I first lived in Gary, IN, it took me a while to get used to people saying good bye to me like this, “Have a blessed day!” We were in a city where it seemed like in some neighborhoods there were more empty lots where houses had been demolished due to condemnation than there were houses that were standing. The neglect of the roads, schools, bridges, houses, shops, etc. was staggering. The reputation of the place was deplorable and everyone who lived in cities around the city of Gary acted like it was hell on earth. There in the midst of all the supposed “hell”, the people were saying, “Have a blessed day!”
This doesn’t even mention the fact that many of these same folks left Gary to work in white suburbs where they faced discrimination that white people didn’t even know was discrimination. We should hardly be able to mention slavery and the Jim Crow South with some people today once again talking with buzz words like “States Rights.” Some people even talk as though the idea of black folks living among them is awful. Some people even talk like black folk choose to live in poverty and have every advantage that other racial communities have. Yet, is there bitterness? None that I could hear because everyone was saying, “have a blessed day!”
I asked a black friend of mine once what he thought of all this. I said, “how can you say, ‘have a blessed day’, with all this history and all this poverty?” His response was, “Black people who love Jesus have no need for anyone’s approval because they have the approval of the Lord. They walk in God’s ways and don’t need to worry about anyone else’s ways. They are free, so they are blessed.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Too often, this is an invitation to lay anything that is on us on Jesus and leave it at that. This is not what this passage is saying. Yes, indeed, come to Jesus if you are crushed. Yes, indeed, come to Jesus if you are ashamed. Yes, come to Jesus if your life is unmanageable and unbearable. Yes, come! But don’t leave it there. Come in the door and enter all the way. The person who stands in the doorway is a stranger in need of a handout. The person who comes all the way in is a friend and is invited to enjoy the entire celebration.
What I am talking about here is that the passage we are talking about today appears between two episodes that are informative. The first episode is the one where Jesus upbraids the unfaithful cities who refuse God for their libertine ways. Then after this he rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for their legalism. Here, in this passage, Jesus offers an alternative to both of them. He offers the way of living the commandments through love. He asks them to follow his commandments.
Those who have God as their god, have a reason to stay out of trouble and avoid using others as objects. Those who avoid using foul language present themselves as smarter, superior in character and more trust worthy. Someone who uses foul language doesn’t seem too trustworthy, they seem emotional and irrational. Someone who takes a day to go to church is bolstered in their faith and gives their body needed rest. A person who let’s go of old hurts and respects their parents seems healthier and more at peace. A person who deals with their anger appropriately is safe to be with and seems strong in character. A person who sticks to their marriage or dating relationship without having multiple partners is an honest person. They also lack the complication or confusion that a multiple partner life can have. There is no conflict of loyalties and the peace is remarkable. A person who doesn’t lie, well, do I even have to explain that? A person who doesn’t envy or desire what others have is a person who is complete in and of themselves.
These are the Ten Commandments. This is the yoke that Jesus wants us to carry with us. Even more and as a completion of them, he wants us to love one another. A loving person doesn’t have the rancor in their life that a mean person who is fending off their lies, their deceit and the hatred they receive from others does. A loving person doesn’t have to live alone on an island of contempt like the person who lacks love within.
Ministering on a college campus is filled with irony. The culture says that these commandments are the burden. They say that these commandments are the judgmental scene. They say that these commandments are the yoke that just denies our freedom to have sex, do drugs, drink until we pass out. That is, they advocate a type of freedom. They advocate the freedom to not know who the father of your baby is because you have had too many partners. They advocate the freedom to decide whether or not you should abort the baby because you just didn’t think that this would happen at this point in your life. They advocate the freedom to have to find another school because you were caught with marijuana in your possession. They advocate the freedom to have your brain chemicals, cells and waves altered permanently by a drug that you weren’t supposed to have in your system. Or, they advocate getting so drunk that you didn’t realize that someone had sex with you the night before, or you didn’t realize you drove your car on roads home and got picked up by the police. Yes, they advocate a freedom that leaves your life in a shambles, your self-worth without value and a peace that is nonexistent.
Yet, the life of a person who knows when to say no, who knows how to use the body that God has given them, who knows how to treat others and live within their skin, those people are not free? Who is freer, the white man who has to chase after superiority by putting another race down, or the black man who, though oppressed, can say, “Have a blessed day!”? Who is more free the drunk, violated college student, or the one who hangs out with people who say, “I love you, friend,” all the time?
The message of Christ, this day is simple. You have chosen to follow him. People are going to try to sell you on a lifestyle that they say is better, easier, and freer. It is a lie. There is one Lord. There is one faith. There is one baptism. There is one God and Father of us all. He loves us. He has given us a way to holiness, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the smart thing to do. So, keep it up. Live that holy life. Say your prayers before your food in front of everyone in the home or at the restaurant. You do that holy thing. Amen? Amen.