But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon'; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds." At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." -Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. Don't listen to what people say about your sacred work in the world. The foolishness of it, the hiddeness of it - this is simply the way the kingdom works. Remember - they said that John had a demon and that Jesus was a drunkard. The worldly wise will say these things. That's because the great work is hidden from the folks who prosper from the status quo - the folks for whom the systems around them work just fine. And so the subversive work of the kingdom is revealed to infants - the innocent, the disenfranchised, the people pushed out to the edge.
But you don't have to take on the whole revolution by yourself. You're yoked with the powers that shake the universe.
Jesus says, take your place alongside me in this humble, subservient work. But don't worry. If you follow me, no matter what happens, the burden will be light, joyful, and peaceful even while the world rages around you, for discipleship is the way to God, and that way is easy and the burden is light.
Reporting from the ripened fields, -Suzanne
Meditation One (introit) worthy work
What Jesus offers is not freedom from work, but freedom from onerous labor. Soul-sick weariness is not the inevitable consequence of all work, but rather of work to which we are ill-suited, of work extracted under compulsion and motivated by fear, or of work performed in the face of futility. There is also the weariness that comes from having nothing at all to do that truly matters. The easy yoke means having something to do: a purpose that demands your all and summons forth your best. It means work that is motivated by a passionate desire to see God's kingdom realized. It means work toward a certain future in which all of God's dreams will finally come true. To accept the yoke of the gentle and humble Lord is to embrace the worthy task that puts the soul at ease.
-Lance Pape Feasting on the Word Year A Vol. 3, p. 217
At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. -Matthew 11:25-26
Following Jesus / does not mean slavishly copying His life. / It means making His choice of life your own/ starting from your own potential / and in the place where you find yourself. / It means living for the values / for which Jesus lived and died.
It means following the path He took / and seeing things as He saw them.
If there is anything in which this life, / this way, can be expressed, / in which God has revealed Himself most clearly, / it is the reality of love. / You are someone only in as far as you are love, / and only what has turned to love in your life / will be preserved.
What love is / you can learn from Jesus.
He is the one who has loved most. / He will teach you to put the center of yourself / outside. / For no man has greater love / than he who lays down his life / for his friends. / He will also teach you / to be unlimited space for others, / invitation and openness: / 'Come to me, all who are weary and over-burdened / and I will give you rest.'
So be converted to love every day. / Change all your energies, / all your potential, / into selfless gifts for the other person. / Then you yourself will be changed from within and through you / God's Kingdom will break into the world.
You are called to follow Jesus closely. / With Him you will take the road / up to Jerusalem, / the city of suffering and glorification. / With Him you will give everything / that the Kingdom may come.
On this road you are called / to be least of all and not master, / to carry other men's burdens / and not lay your own on them, / to give freedom instead of taking it, / to grow poor in order to make others rich, / to take the cross upon yourself / thus bringing joy to other men, / to die in order that others may live. / This is the mystery of the gospel / and there is no purpose in endless talk about it. / Be silent - for it will be true and genuine / only if you practice it.
So keep Jesus Christ before your eyes. / Don't hesitate to go anywhere He leads you; / don't stay where you are and don't look back, / but look forward with eagerness to what lies ahead.
-Rule for a New Brother by the Brakkenstein Community of Blessed Sacrament Fathers, Holland
detail, March, Limbourg Brothers, Tres Riches Heures
Come to me, all you that need instruction, and learn in my school. Why do you admit that you are ignorant and do nothing about it? Here is what I say: It costs nothing to be wise. Put on the yoke, and be willing to learn. The opportunity is always near. See for yourselves! I have really not studied very hard, but I have found great contentment. No matter how much it costs you to get Wisdom, it will be well worth it. - Sirach 51:23-28 (GNB)
Limbourg/Colombe, Les Tres Riches Heures, "September", 1412-1489
Meditation Two (insight) joyful work
And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to him, for only he knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey's end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy. Ö May God grant us joy as we strive earnestly to follow the way of discipleship. May we be enabled to say "No" to sin and "Yes" to the sinner. May we withstand our foes, and yet hold out to them the Word of the gospel which woos and wins the souls of men. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)
-Dietrich Bonheoffer 1906-1945 The Cost of Discipleship
Meditation Three (integration) work in the world
Prosperous people already know they matter. They are already so secure in their human dignity that they usually don't give it much thought. It is the poor whose attempts to claim their own dignity -- small, but often so costly -- need affirming. It is the poor and the weak, who are most aware of the need for comfort and refreshment all of us have. When things are going your way, it's easy to forget that you depend on God for everything you have. It's easy to begin thinking you don't, that your power resides in yourself. The powerlessness of all human beings shows clearly in the lives of the poor. The rich can hide from it -- for a time.But there is nobody who will not one day find himself bearing a load too heavy to carry alone. None of us are self-sufficient, however strong or weak or rich or poor we may be. We are all in need of comfort, in need of refreshment. Blessed are those who know their need of it early; they are the ones who will put themselves in the way of the Comforter.
We have learned a bit too late in the day that action springs not from thought but from a readiness for responsibility.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer Letters from Prison
Donít ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go out and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
-Howard Thurman 1899-1981
"September" Limbourg/Colombe, Les Tres Riches Heures
Come unto me all ye that travail and are heavy laden and I will refresh you.
The prayerbook calls them “ The Comfortable Words.” When I hear this passage not only do I hear the sonorous voice of my childhood minister, but remember a state of drowsey altertness - by that contradiction I suppose I mean asleep to one kind of consciousness and awake to another - the effect of the secure beauty of cadence, of comforting repetition in childhood. With the Comfortable Words come the scent of sunlight on boxwood, light mitigated by the stained-glass Good Shepherd with his docile sheep, the interesting blue veins in his bare feet. I feel in my chest the beautiful harmonies of childhood hymns and chants, and the hauntingly gorgeous Healey Willen communion service. No wonder I made the church my life for better and for worse - seduced by beauty and comfort.
A beast of burden leans into the harness, dragging the plow or pushing the turnwheel of the millstone. Sometimes human slaves do this work. In ancient times the humiliation of a captured enemy involved a forced walk under a symbolic yoke of raised spears or swords. Oddly, the military custom of a new bride and groom walking under an arch of sabers symbolizes the couple's bond as they pass into their new life together.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light, says Jesus.
Maybe the times the burden was too hard was when I thought I was alone, lurching ahead of the rhythm established by the steady One to whom I was yoked. Or maybe together we strained against a particularly hard field of boulders. Now, however, let me be alert to You, the One to whom I have been yoked since childhood. Let me conform to the ease and lightness of whatever task you lead me to. Amen.