JULY 15, 2004, HOMILY
 MATTHEW 11:28-30

COME TO ME ALL YOU WHO LABOR AND ARE BURDENED AND I WILL REFRESH YOU. TAKE  MY BURDEN UPON YOU AND LEARN FROM ME FOR I AM MEEK AND HUMBLE OF HEART. Jesus invites us all with these words to become disciples in his school. He teaches a practical art in these words, the art of modeling suffering,  fashioning it into new life. We are to learn this lesson by practice, that is to say by putting into effect what he teaches. This labor and its heavy demands are the burden of which he speaks; he reassures us that if we should heed his words and live out the demands of the doctrine he teaches, we will make the surprising discovery that his commandments are an expression of love. By obeying them we take on the burden of his cross only to discover that his yoke is sweet to the soul and light to bear.

Love alone supplies the energy needed for such a transformation of the heaviness that weighs upon us when we enclose our self within our own small world of self-seeking, whatever form it takes. Life is soon wearisome when we make of it a search for the satisfaction of our own desires without concern for the good of others. Whether it be from jealousy or resentment, such an attitude is self-defeating. Refusal to forgive others, ready criticism of others, and all the many shapes that selfishness assumes in our minds and in our dealings with others, are indications of the failure to take up the yoke of love. Such dispositions soon lead to weariness of the heart and sourness of manner. For joy can find no lodging in the heart filled with the bitterness of rancor and smoldering anger. The person who is prompt to criticize others, who finds fault with all manner of behavior is not only a heavy burden to herself; she also weighs heavily on those she lives with.

The remedy that Jesus brings us for such a burdensome life is love. Love of the Father in heaven which our Lord not only reveals to us but also communicates to us. Matthew depicts Jesus as affirming that “No one knows the Son except the Father, nor does anyone know the Father save the Son and the one to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” In his teaching and above all in his suffering and death our Lord so reconciles us to the Father that we are admitted to this surpassing love, unworthy as we are in our self. This experience of sharing in the same love that unites the Father with the Son is what teaches us true humility and meekness of heart. The words of today’s Gospel invite us to open our self to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, opened to us in the Eucharist we are celebrating. Here the Lord bestows on us in love the gift of his own body and blood to unite us with himself as a pledge of future glory. May we show forth the fruits of this love by the unity of spirit manifest in our life together.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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