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Bible, Gospel, Lent, Liturgical Living

Our Favorite, Comfy Sweatshirt Prayer Revisited

23 February 2021

Matthew 6:7-15

One of my favorite scripture passages is Isaiah 55:10-11 which compares the word of God to rain that falls to earth making it fertile and fruitful. The word of God, it says, will not return to God empty, but will do what pleases God and achieve the end for which He sent it. 

In a recent general audience, Pope Francis spoke about this saying, “The Bible was not written for a generic humanity, but for us, men and women in flesh and blood, men and women who have first and last names, like me, like you” (Homily, 27 Jan 2021). I love these reminders that God’s word is living and purposeful, shared with me as if God were speaking these words to me alone. 

This is a good reminder as we approach the words of today’s gospel in which Jesus teaches us the Lord’s Prayer. For many of us, the Lord’s Prayer is like our favorite comfy, old sweatshirt – it fits, it’s easy, and it’s always there. 

But in that familiarity, do we find ourselves forgetting to read these words with the same intentional prayerfulness we give to other, less familiar passages? Do we gloss over today’s gospel with a “been there, done that” approach instead of diving deeply into this beautiful prayer gifted to us by our Savior? Do we recite rather than pray the Lord’s Prayer? 

Much has been written about the perfection of the Lord’s Prayer – how it organizes our priorities according to God’s intention and how it helps us look past the trials of today toward eternity with God. 

What if we were to explore this prayer with those things in mind or reflect on it using the purposeful steps of lectio divina, searching and listening for what God is saying to each of us in these familiar words? What fruit would God’s word yield if we just ask, “What are you saying to me today, Lord?”

Kim Miller

Meditation

Pray the words of the Our Father from Mt 6:14 slowly.

Lent Devotional 2021
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Advent, Family Life, Gospel, Self Care, Uncategorized, Women's Ministry

Come to me, all you who labor. Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Wednesday 9 December

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds: “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.”


Can I tell you something? I was horribly late getting this piece turned in. The burdens of my life were getting in the way. Some of the burdens were big, but most were everyday burdens – what to cook for dinner, the kids arguing with each other, a lack of sleep because of a little one who still wakes up each night in need of extra snuggles. But the burdens felt heavy and instead of setting them down, I was gathering the burdens more tightly to myself and dragging them along.

Dragging heavy burdens gets exhausting, but so often this is the way we choose to go through our lives. Which is so counterintuitive, isn’t it? If something is too heavy, we ought to set it down. Or ask for help!

This inclination to carry on alone starts early.

When my five-year-old helps carry in the groceries she grunts and groans but refuses to quit because she wants to demonstrate how strong she is. But this only works until her little muscles wear out and we end up with a spilled bag of broken groceries on the ground. Are we like her, trying to show ourselves and others how strong we are?

Jesus offers us a better way: “Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.”

What he offers goes beyond just a quick break before we pile all our burdens back on our backs and trudge along. He goes on to tell us, “Take up my yoke, and learn of me.” A yoke was a harness for not one, but two oxen, allowing them to share the weight of the plow. Jesus is literally offering to carry part of the burden for us, to walk alongside us as we move through the hard stuff in our lives, a constant companion.

And He is offering to teach us, too, as we walk alongside Him. He will teach us a better way, a way that is meek and humble of heart, so that we can find rest in our souls. He is offering the five-year-old in each of us help to carry whatever is in our grocery sacks and to teach us how to accept that help, so that we don’t end up broken and spilled out, unable to go on.

That help comes to us in unexpected ways – the husband who picks up take-out so you don’t have to cook, the friend who calls out of the blue and asks if your kids can come for a playdate, the child who sleeps through the night (just once!) so you can get a good night’s rest. We must train ourselves to be meek and humble of heart so that we can recognize and accept the help that is being offered and to see Jesus in those moments when our burden is lightened.

And when we do, Jesus assures us, we will see that His yoke is truly sweet and his burden is truly light.

Kim Miller

To Ponder

Can you think of a time you were dragging along a grocery sack full of stuff? Are you dragging something now? Look around for people offering to help share your burden.

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