Matthew’s Gospel gathers together three invitations from Jesus that we his followers need to listen to attentively, since they can transform the climate of discouragement, weariness, boredom that often pervades some parts of our communities.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.” This is the first invitation. It’s directed toward all those who live their religion as a heavy burden. Not a few Christians live beaten down by their conscience. They aren’t great sinners. They simply have been taught to always have their sin before them and they don’t know the joy of God’s continuous forgiveness. If they meet Jesus, they will find themselves relieved.
There are also Christians tired of living their religion as a worn-out tradition. If they meet Jesus, they will learn to be fully alive with God. They will discover an inner joy that they don’t know yet. They will follow Jesus, not out of obligation, but out of attraction.
“Shoulder my yoke… it is easy, and my burden is light.” This is the second invitation. Jesus doesn’t weigh anyone down. On the contrary, he frees up what‘s best in us, since he proposes that we live our lives making them more human, worthy, whole. It’s not easy to find a more passionate way of living.
Jesus frees us from fear and pressure, he doesn’t impose these on us; he makes our liberty grow, not our slavery; he awaken in us trust, never sadness; he draws us to love, not toward laws and precepts. He invites us to live by doing good.
“Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” This is the third invitation. We need to learn from Jesus how to live like him. Jesus doesn’t complicate our life. He makes it clearer and simpler, more humble, more whole. He offers rest. He never puts onto his followers something that he hasn’t lived himself. He invites us to follow him on the same path that he has walked. That’s why he can understand our difficulties and our struggles, he can forgive our stupidities and our faults, always encouraging us to get up again.
We need to focus our efforts to promote a more vital contact with Jesus in so many men and women who need courage, rest, and peace. I’m saddened to see that it is precisely their way of understanding and living religion that leads so many, almost inevitably, to not know the experience of trusting in Jesus. I think about so many people who, both within and outside of the Church, live ‘lost’, without knowing at what door to knock. I know that Jesus would be good news for them.