Today’s briefest of liturgy gospel readings is especially welcome in these busy pre-Christmas end-or-year days.
Take a moment now to savour it slowly, perhaps a couple of times:
“Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
Rest is something we long for often hanging out for the weekend or the vacation. But the rest we really seek is not a human achievement. True rest is what we experience when we live in harmony with God and with one another.
Rest happens to us when we let God be God.
This harmony comes naturally when we remember that God who knows us, loves us.
One of our deepest human desires is to be known and loved. Sometimes when people express gratitude to us for what we have done for them and even seem to hold us in esteem, we note that while they appreciate what we have done, they don’t really know us.
We learn much more about the way God loves us when someone knows the truth about us, especially our weakness and vulnerability, and loves us. In this person we have a friend and in their company we can truly rest.
In September 185 diocesan priests from each of the six New Zealand diocese gathered for four days in Christchurch. At Mass on the first evening in St. Mary’s pro-Cathedral we sang a popular version of Psalm 139. As we moved through each verse the singing became more gentle and reflective. It was very moving to sing this great hymn of dependance on God with the priests and people who gathered that evening for Mass.
Last month 350 students from 17 primary schools of the diocese gathered at the same church for a choral festival. Those who were present were moved by the beauty of these young voices, well trained to sing in harmony ancient Latin motets and anthems and hymns some known well to our ancestors and others written in the last decade or two.
One of the hymns they sang was the same version of Psalm 139 as sung by the priests in the same church a couple of months earlier:
All my thoughts lie open to your gaze.
When I walk or lie down, you are before me,
Ever the maker and keeper of my days.
You know my resting and my rising.
You discern my purpose from afar,
and with love everlasting you besiege me:
In ev’ry moment of life or death, you are.
Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,
you have known its meaning through and through.
You are with me beyond my understanding:
God of my present, my past and future too.
Although your Spirit is upon me,
still I search for shelter from your light.
There is nowhere on earth I can escape you:
Even the darkness is radiant in your sight.
For you created me and shaped me,
gave me life within my mother’s womb.
For the wonder of who I am, I praise you:
Safe in your hands, all creation is made new.
Words and music by Bernadette Farrell
All rights reserved. Used with permission
© One License A-626491
- Click on the choral festival image below and pray along with the children singing Psalm 139. You might use the recording again as you drive to work to extend the prayer.
- Again, thank you for the quality comments and reflections sharing your experience of Christ in the routines and demands of your life at home, office and study, milking shed and social gatherings. Many people are helped by knowing that you are journeying alongside them growing with Jesus.