01 July 2011

'Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened'. Sunday Reflections, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Readings (New American Bible, used in the Philippines and the USA)

Gospel Matthew 11:25-30 (Jerusalem Bible, used in Australia, England &Wales, Ireland, Scotland)

Jesus exclaimed, 'I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

'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.'

AN SOISCÉAL: Matha 11:25-30 (Gaeilge, Irish)

San am sin labhair Íosa agus dúirt: “Tugaim buíochas duit, a Athair, a Thiarna neimhe agus talún, de chionn mar a cheil tú na nithe seo ar lucht eagna agus éirime agus mar a d’fhoilsigh tú do naíonáin iad. Sea, a Athair, óir is amhlaidh sin ba mhaith leat é. Tá gach aon ní tugtha domsa ag m’Athair. Agus níl aithne ag aon neach ar an Mac ach amháin ag an Athair, ná níl aithne ag aon neach ar an Athair ach amháin ag an Mac agus an té ar toil leis an Mac a fhoilsiú dó.

“Tagaigí chugam, sibhse uile a bhfuil saothar agus tromualach oraibh, agus tabharfaidh mé faoiseamh daoibh. Tógaigí oraibh mo chuing agus tagaigí ar scoil chugamsa, mar táim ceansa uiríseal ó chroí, agus gheobhaidh sibh faoiseamh do bhur n-anamacha; óir tá mo chuing so-iompair agus m’ualach éadrom.”


‘Come to me, all you . . .’ From the 1977 production of Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth. (Jesus played by Robert Powell). Texts from different parts of the Gospel.

We have been back to Ordinary Time since 13 June but this is the first Sunday since 6 March to use a Mass of Ordinary Time. In recent weeks we've had the Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christ,, the Sacred Heart, not to mention the Birthday of St John the Baptist and the feast of Sts Peter and Paul, all major liturgical celebrations.

Today's Mass is in the 'afterglow' of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart just two days earlier, using the same gospel.

About 30 years ago when I was in charge of a formation house for diocesan seminarians in Tangub City, Misamis Occidental, I used to visit the local hospitals almost daily. On one occasion I met a 16-year-old girl from across the bay who had been very badly burned in an accident in her home. Her father was looking after her in the hospital. Here in the Philippines it is the practice for a 'watcher' or two, usually family members, to stay with a patient, usually in somewhat overcrowded conditions. The girl's condition wasn't critical but serious and very painful. Tangub, despite its status as a city, was a rather small place. When the father heard I was going to nearby Ozamiz City he asked me to try to find a certain ointment that the doctor had prescribed for his daughter but that was unavailable in Tangub.

I went to every pharmacy in Ozamiz but none had the ointment in stock. I felt disappointed for the young woman and her father as I returned to Tangub with the bad news. Indeed, I felt quite 'down'. But when I met the girl's father he just smiled and said, 'Well, we tried'.

I was struck by the deep faith behind the man's statement. He was expressing implicitly that he believed the words of Jesus in today's gospel: Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.

If I may add as an aside, the stereotype of the carer is the loving mother. As a man, I was blessed to meet such a tenderly loving father, taking care of his badly hurt daughter, and doing so with cheerfulness.

We must never forget that behind the tenderness of the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is his Passion and death. I saw too that behind the tender love of that father for his suffering daughter in the hospital was his own deep pain as he suffered with her.

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