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Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD / July 09, 2023

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A man was worrying too much over his problems, sleepless at night from insomnia. Upon the advice of a friend, he tried the old remedy of counting sheep while getting some sleep.

He went to bed and closed his eyes, but when the first sheep came along, it stumbled and fell. Would someone come along to help the sheep? How many more sheep would come along and stumble over the fallen sheep?

The man was so personally involved with the situation that the more he could not sleep anymore!

* * *

In the gospel of this 14th Sunday, Jesus teaches us to avoid worrying and to put trust in God. “Come to me all who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11,28).

Bear in mind that experiencing weariness and finding life burdensome are part and parcel of human life. There is the ordinary fatigue we feel from hard work–the kind nurses and doctors, secretaries, teachers, laborers feel after a hard day or week. Thus, the saying, accompanied with a sigh of relief: “Thank God, it’s Friday” (TGF).

* * *

Then there is the extreme kind of weariness bordering on severe depression and even suicide. Not so long ago a lady plunged to her death from a tall building in Makati. She did it because of acute depression about his father’s lingering illness, aggravated by mounting hospital bills. In the U.S. the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has been the scene of more than 600 suicides? For these people life has become meaningless and living does not seem worthwhile any more.

* * *

One way of avoiding such wrong “solution,” is to stay calm and not rush headlong, ending one’s own life. Remember that life is not ours but God’s. And only He can take it away.

* * *

Jesus comes to us as a friend who says, “Come to me all who’re worry and find burdensome and I’ll give you rest.” He’s a friend who is “gracious and merciful, and of great compassion”–a “bridge over troubled waters.” He teaches us to cultivate relinquishment, the ability to let go of our anxieties and put ourselves in God’s hands.

* * *

Too often we allow our worries and anxieties to overcome us instead of we overcoming them. We are so used to depending on ourselves that we leave no room for God’s working in our life. As somebody puts it, “Worry is a mild form of atheism.”

These are compounded by personal and family problems like those who cannot afford to pay their monthly house rental or expensive medicine for severe and lingering ailments.

* * *

If there’s some consolation, experiencing weariness and finding life burdensome are part and parcel of human life. It’s as the existentialist puts it: “It’s not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.”

We go to the doctor when we have some ailments, and that’s good. But do we also go to God–in the church or at the Adoration Chapel—or seek the advice of a spiritual counselor?

* * *

As much as we depend on God for our daily needs, so must we also work hard. The writer J.C. Holland once made this insight about God’s providence: “God gives every bird its food, but he does not throw it into the nest. If you observe the birds, they work hard scraping food here and there in order to feed their nestlings.

Hence, when the Lord says “Don’t worry,” he does not mean “Don’t work.”

* * *

Another analogy the Lord uses is the big and small yoke commonly seen in Palestine. At harvest time, the big yoke is pulled by the cow (Lord) and the small that follows on the side is we. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt. 11,30.)

In modern time, a lady, when sharing about her success formula, said: “I work hard. I do my part; then I let God do the rest.” That should be our attitude.

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