Saturday, July 2, 2011

14th Sunday. "I will give you rest": in God we are restored to the Faith which is stronger than any discouragement or weariness in life

Weariness is part of the cycle of living.

At this point in the summer, some of our priests who face the transition to a new parish assignment may find themselves weary of packing and unpacking. Perhaps some who were looking forward to a break from the winter now realize they have become weary of the summer heat. Those who escape the mundane of home and the familiar by vacationing sometimes find themselves weary of vacation itself and find returning home a source of refreshment. The cycle of waking and sleeping, working and resting, being away on vacation and being at home, all of these point to our need for restoration and refreshment as part of the reality of being human.

Some people have been heard to say that they have become weary of faith and, tragically, respond by dropping out of attending Sunday Mass or giving up on daily prayer or failing to receive the Sacrament of confession after committing mortal sin.

The first remedy to help in our fight against spiritual lethargy is the proper celebration of the Lord's Day each week, and the reason why we are here at Mass:

"Just as God 'rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,' human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives. (CCC 2184)

God who knows our needs and speaks to us in love calls us to seek rest on the Lord's Day for He knows our need to be restored better than we do ourselves.

"On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

'The charity of truth seeks holy leisure - the necessity of charity accepts just work.' "(CCC 2185)

But God says that no matter what else is going on in our lives, we must always look to Him for the refreshment, light and peace we need as we experience the weakness of our human nature which can experience the bewilderment and discouragement of tiring in our efforts at work, at relationships and even in our love of God who is ever ready to restore us to our best selves.

God comes to us gently, meekly, as we hear in today's first reading. He comes not to take away but to restore and to strengthen us in the peace whose fruit is joy: "he shall proclaim peace to the nations." And he does this for each of us because He has the power to give what He promises to all: "His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth." We are invited always to seek His kingdom which is not of this world as a refuge from the world which sometimes leaves us weary and discouraged.

We are encouraged to explore this possibility of God's peaceful dominion further by taking a yearly personal retreat, an escape from the day to day so as to explore more deeply our relationship with God. The summer break is a good time to find this "rest" for ourselves in the Lord as he invites us in the Gospel reading and we are blessed to have available to us a retreat center located near our parish.

God can give the rest and refreshment because He is love, and in all our experience of weariness and sometimes discouragement it is love, above all, which restores to us our sense of dignity and worthiness to be loved. Our works, our efforts, all of our activity expresses our God-given dignity when the goal of all is love, a selfless desire to simply serve others as God has served us, to give to others the charity which ever finds its source in God, who is charity itself.

"The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion:

" 'Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.' (St Augustine) " (CCC 1829)

Jesus Christ Himself is our peace who brings life and good from every cross as He did through His own cross of suffering and death. Praise and thank God that in holy Mass each Sunday, or the vigil on Saturday, we are able to answer in the most perfect way the wonderful invitation from the Lord to seek rest in Him.

Our peace and strength are regained in the Eucharist for thus we receive Jesus Christ Himself who becomes our peace and joy:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

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