you know me

Dec 12, 2018

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:

O God, you search me and you know me.
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

An Invitation

  • 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.


  1. Psalm 139 is such a lovely Advent gift. In it, a knowing of God and a knowing of ourselves come together in the loving embrace of truth. It is a psalm of homecoming. Thank you for sharing it this morning.

  2. A beautiful psalm and the children’s voices, what a joyful way to start this day. Thank you Fr John for these beautiful reflections and I’m reminded in the busy-ness of these days to be still and know that I am God.

  3. My favourite Psalm…

  4. My favourite Psalm also! I had the joy of hearing those beautiful young voices when I was visiting Christchurch last month. I had slipped into the little chapel at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral thinking for Adoration. The music festival was on so no Adoration, but God’s gift to me that day was hearing the beautiful sounds coming from the main body of the Church beside me! Thank you Fr John for bringing this Psalm and this memory back to me this morning!

  5. Thank you

  6. Food for faith indeed! “No rest for the wicked” is the correlating thought that sprang to mind as I read this, and how true that is.
    Thanks for another inspiring commentary, it’s helping turn this in to the best Advent ever for me.

  7. Just what I needed.. thank you!

    A thought.. our yoke is usually self made created out of fear, guilt and sinfulness. Gods yoke is made from Love! No wonder it is light.
    God bless everyone have a lovely day

  8. While carrying my mother’s coffin from her house to the hearse many years ago, I suddenly, without any prior thought or intent began singing the hymn BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. I have always regarded that moment as a message from Mum, prompted and enabled by the Holy Spirit,
    which she knew in my busy, stressed, self-reliant life, I desperately needed to hear at that point in my life.

  9. The Pohutakawa trees are coming out all over the town as they do every Advent season here. They begin to flower slowly and silently yet their glory is a lasting reminder that true beauty comes from within and is the cumulation of a whole years cycle. As we celebrate Jesus’s birth we too might take time to reflect on our own growth throughout the year and be still and silent like the Pohutukawa so we too could reflect God’s glory.

  10. I like the imagery of Ps 139 becoming gentle and reflective while being sung. It reminded me of the Homily delivered by Bishop Owen Dolan at a funeral last week. He made the observation about his visiting the deceased fortnightly, for an extended period of months, in which he noticed her transition; from self, toward the Lord, maybe to the greatest extent possible.
    Praise The Lord. RIP Alison Mary – you completed your song.
    A beautiful example of completing a lifelong commitment to God, in our times when others are just not willing to wait.

  11. I loved that hymn growing up in the 90s. Still love it.

  12. Let go and let God.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts

a friend within

a friend within

Let’s learn both from Anton’s life and from John’s reflection to seek more passionately the ultimate relationship

a thin place

a thin place

Awareness of Thin Places has become a sabbatical theme for me.

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

Orvieto is a beautiful Italian hill-top settlement where all roads lead to the magnificent medieval Cathedral.

growing young

growing young

A simple experiment will give a more personal experience of the life that is on offer.