"Come to Me!"
A Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Today, in this Church, at this Mass, you have come. For whatever reason you have come, the important thing is that you are here. Whether it is just to fulfill your Sunday obligation, or whether you really want to be here to meet the Lord in the most holy sacrifice of His Body and Blood on the cross, or whether you have come to present to him all the cares and worries that burden you, or to thank Him for all of the joys and blessings that you have received this week or in the past, the important thing is that you have come, and we can be assured Our Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is pleased and welcomes you with open arms, and wants to give you His grace and peace.
The Gospel for today speaks precisely of Jesus’ invitation for us to come. He says in no uncertain terms: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus spoke these words not only to those people who listened and walked with Him about two thousand years ago. He speaks these same words to us, to each and every one of us in the intimacy of our hearts, in the precise situation we are in, in the specific condition of our bodies and souls. He wants us to come to Him and be close to Him, so He can embrace us with all that we are, with all our joys and blessings we have, with all the burdens, with all the loads that we carry at the present moment.
In our parish website, there is a section called: “Submit a prayer request.” All these prayer requests are included in the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass. In these prayer requests on the website, we find mini-stories about the concerns and burdens those people are carrying, in terms of sickness of the person or members of the family, of loss of a job or source of livelihood, of separation and alienation of family members from one another, of unwillingness to forgive hurts, of sins that bother them that they find difficult to conquer, of drug or alcohol or sex addiction that ruin themselves and their families and threaten their own salvation.
To these and those of us who have heavy loads we carry, Jesus tells us: “Come. Come all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest for your souls.”
Unfortunately, many people who are heavily burdened do not think of coming to the Lord, or refuse His invitation. They would rather drown their problems through drugs, alcohol, and further immersion in sin and addiction, or give in to the influence of the prevailing culture that tells them: “Enjoy yourself, you are made that way, there is no God anyway.” But seeking rest and peace from those other than Him who cares about us is the greatest misfortune and folly that we can ever commit.
In the Responsorial Psalm we are reminded:
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.
Last Sunday, we are reminded that if we are to be followers of Christ, we must take up our cross daily. Sometimes probably some will say, if God is kind and merciful, and good and compassionate, why are we asked by Our Lord Jesus to take up our crosses in order that we may become His followers? Why do we have to suffer?
The answer is that Our Lord Himself suffered and took up His cross and died on it for us. A disciple must be a follower of his master, and so if we carry our own crosses, it is being like Christ, our master. Moreover, if we unite our own sufferings with those of Jesus, then they can be a source of grace and strength for us in bearing them, and for those who we want to offer these sufferings for.
Jesus also said: “My yoke is easy, and my burden light.” What it means is that if we accept our crosses willingly and with the proper spirit, the burden actually becomes lighter for we know that we are following our Lord, Who loves us.
In the second reading St. Paul reminds us that we must not live according to the dictates of the flesh, but according to the Spirit of God who dwells in us. And if we have the Spirit of Christ in us we will not die but live forever.
If we have Christ in us, our life’s burdens become lighter, for we know He is with us.
And so, my brothers and sisters: let us always keep in our minds and hearts the constant invitation of Jesus: “Come. Come to me.” Do not be deceived by those who will destroy your spirit and your life. For if in our lives we ignore Christ’s call to come to Him always, if we turn away from Him Who truly loves us, we will become easy prey to worldly values, to Satan, the evil one, who prowls around the world, seeking the ruin of souls.
Come to Jesus in prayer always. Talk to Him anytime of the day, wherever you are, like a friend who talks to his friend, like a child who talks to his father, like a creature who talks to his God.
And when we fall into sin due to human weakness, come to Him in the sacrament of reconciliation which He instituted to give peace to our souls. Sin, more than physical suffering, is the heaviest burden we can carry. Again, in the Responsorial Psalm we are assured that
The LORD lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
Come to Mass, not just to fulfill your Sunday obligation. But come to worship Him in the greatest expression of our thanksgiving, where the mystery of His love for us through His sacrifice on the cross is made present to us.
And when you come to Mass, He invites you to come so that you can receive Him, body and blood, soul and divinity in your body and your soul. Is there a more intimate way we can be united with the God who loves us?
The Gospel message and of today’s readings is therefore that we need to respond with wholehearted faith and desire, even excitement, to Jesus’ invitation for us to come to Him. We need to say to Him, “Come, Lord Jesus, into my heart and stay there always. Give me the inspiration and grace to live my life, with all of its challenges, its joys, blessings and trials with a trusting and loving heart.”