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notre dame montreal Ordinary 14 - Jesus said come unto me

Weekly Bible Notes and Worship Resources

Ordinary 14 Year A


Introduction

John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress here in Bedford. His story is told the world over of how Pilgrim journeyed and found his burden lifted. You can read the text in adobe on our website

In our reading today from Matthew we read the passage of scripture from Matthew in which Jesus spoke of lifting our burdens.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.'

We often think of religion as being something which makes us feel guilty. Jesus speaks in a way which shows that is not God's intention. Jesus came that we might have freedom from guilt and a release from those things which bring fear. Jesus came to bring peace to all the souls who put their trust in him.

Opening Verses of Scripture   Galatians Chapter 5 Verse 1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Common Worship

Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails: deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord. Common Worship Shorter Collect

Servant Lord, grant us both the opportunity and the will to serve you day by day. May all that we do and how we bear each other's burdens be our offering of love and service to the glory of your name. Amen. Methodist Worship

First Bible Reading  Zechariah Chapter 9 : 9 - 12

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle-bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

Second Reading  Romans Chapter 7 : 15-25a

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognised as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do— this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God— through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Gospel Reading Matthew Chapter 11 : 16 - 19, 25 - 30

take my Yoke - Jesus 'To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others:" 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, 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, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners".' But wisdom is proved right by her actions." At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.'

Post Communion Sentence

God of our pilgrimage, you have led us to the living water: refresh and sustain us as we go forward on our journey, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Loving Father, we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son: sustain us with your Spirit, that we may serve you here on earth until our joy is complete in heaven, and we share in the eternal banquet with Jesus Christ our Lord.
 

Commentary

In today’s gospel Jesus encourages us with the comfortable words with which we started our service,

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.'

Perhaps we should start by thinking about what Jesus meant by ‘carrying his yoke.’ Jewish people at the time spoke of carrying the yoke of God’s law and the yoke of his kingdom. This was done by acknowledging that God was one and by keeping his commandments. So when Jesus spoke about his yoke being ‘easy’ and his burden ‘light,’ he was effectively contrasting the easy life which would be enjoyed by those who followed him, with the burdensome life for those under the old Jewish law.
Now that is all well and done but was Jesus being sincere? You may think that life for his followers was anything but easy, remember this is the Jesus who told his disciples that they had to take up a cross, an instrument of death, if they really wanted to be his disciples. Think, is it easy to follow the teachings of Jesus? To follow Jesus means a life of seeing the best in people, going the extra mile, forgiving endlessly, sharing all that we have with those in need. So in what way is following Jesus easy?

The answer must take into consideration the contrast between the life of those Jews who tried to be obedient to God by keeping a whole load of rules and regulations as they obeyed the law of Moses. This yoke was a hard one to bear and led to a life of rule keeping under the old covenant. This is made explicit in the verses which follow in Chapter 12. Here the disciples of Jesus are attacked by the Pharisees, who were strict adherents of the Mosaic law, for plucking and eating grain on the Sabbath. Jesus defends his disciples for breaking the Sabbath by declaring that he as ’Son of Man’ was  ‘Lord of the Sabbath.’ Jesus is replacing the old law which never removed the guilt of sin, with nothing less than himself. Jesus is the New Covenant and he offers the opportunity to escape from the old religion which piles guilt and misery and demands sacrifice. The followers will no longer have to worry about a God who condemns and demands the blood of innocent animals to be spilled to make peace. They will no longer require priests to offer sacrifices on their behalf.

Jesus was promising a new lifestyle in which his followers would discover peace from seeking to live out his teachings. The way of following Jesus would demand hardship and suffering, but the grace and salvation discovered in the heart of those who trusted in Jesus would mean that their burden of sin would be lifted and guilt would be no more. Charles Royden

 

Meditation

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

Besides, it is my experience that more people today are led to God by the emptiness they find in success than through being broken by hard experiences--although, of course, the ways to God are infinite, and there is no shortage of the latter. Just when they attain what they always dreamed of, when they get to the position they have long worked for, they find themselves restless and unsatisfied. They ask themselves--tell themselves--"There must be more than this!"  Michael Novak, 20th century
 

Hymns

  1. Crown him with many crowns 255 Tune Diademata
  2. Jesus the name high over all 264 Tune Lydia
  3. Praise my soul the King of heaven 13 Tune Praise my soul
  4. I heard the voice of Jesus say 136 Tune Kingsfold
  5. Lift up your hearts! We lift them to the Lord 405 Tune Woodlands

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian,
if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected,
it will wither and die.

 

Praise to you, God, for all your work among us. Yours is the vigour in creation, yours is the impulse in our new discoveries. Make us adventurous, yet reverent and hopeful in all we do. Amen.

Lord, quieten us down, as we place into your hands those for whom we want to pray. We know that you love them with a greater love than we could ever imagine. In the stillness we are here, with you, for them. Amen

Lord God, we thank you for calling us into the company of those who trust in Christ and seek to obey His will. May your Spirit guide and strengthen us in mission and service to your world; for we are strangers no longer but pilgrims together on the way to your Kingdom. Amen
Prayer of the Inter Church Process (The Swanwick Declaration)

God the Sender, send you; God the Sent, go with us; God the Strengthener of those who go, empower you, that you may go to do His will; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Thank you God for opportunity. Here is a new day, untouched by my hand, but held in yours. I need you and you have chosen to need me. Together we can bring to fruition some of life's endless possibilities. Thank you God. Amen

The love of the Lord Jesus draw you to Himself, the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in His service, the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen


 

Additional Material

Commentary

Rabbis spoke of the yoke of the Law, with its many regulations, as something people took on themselves to steer and guide them down God's paths in life. And it seems to have been a common complaint, addressed above all to the Scribes and Pharisees as interpreters of God's Law, that their teachings had become complicated and difficult to follow, a burden rather than a guide to holy living, a set of rules which were turning people away from God rather than to Him. By contrast, Jesus' way is not a complex set of rules - He merely says love God and love each other. His invitation is beautiful in its simplicity. It is not a summons to idol worship of Jesus, but a call to learn a new way, especially a new way of interpreting and understanding God's will. It is not a call to heaviness, but a call to lightness of being. It contrasts with the serious calls of those who would interpret scripture as demand and stricture as the Rabbis did of old. Modern reformers and spiritual leaders could well take a lesson from Jesus' principal challengers. Spiritual elitism repels many more than it attracts. The best guides are those who practice what they preach.

Commentary

Things are not always what they seem!

In Jesus' time work animals (usually oxen) worked in pairs, yoked together by a hand-carved wooden frame to share the load. The design pressed against the windpipes of horses and choked them, so work horses weren't used in the field until the invention of the horse collar and harness much later in Northern Europe. In the Gospel passage Jesus is offering us the opportunity to share our load with Him. He also identifies his mission with John the Baptist's; but explains that they are different. John's mission was to proclaim the imminent arrival of the Kingdom and urge people to be ready for it. In Jesus not only is the kingdom announced; it is coming to reality, both now and in the future.
The words from the Gospel reading, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.", were known in the Book of Common Prayer as The Comfortable Words and were said by the Priest right after the Confession and Absolution in the service of Holy Communion. They were introduced with the words, "Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him...". They reminded us of the hope we have in God, of our renewed reconciliation and peace we have with Him through our new life in Christ.
God had given his people basic guidelines for holy life, but the Pharisees had ended up making God's Law inaccessible and impossible to follow. Jesus assures his disciples that by learning and interpreting God's Law in His way, they will not be intimidated by complexity or burdened, and condemned to failure, by the minutiae of details and esoteric interpretation. Jesus points out the original simplicity of God's Covenant and Law, and demonstrates that all they need to guide and steer them is a simple uncomplicated faith in Him, through which everyone can find true peace, rest, and refreshment.
By putting the Comfortable Words back into the context of Matthew's Gospel, they have a depth that sometimes is not immediately obvious from their Eucharistic setting. Absolution and forgiveness is not conditional upon our ability to follow complicated rules, but is a gift from God, given freely out of His incomparable and compassionate riches. And as we find peace, refreshment and rest for ourselves we are called to live the kind of lives through which others, too, can find God's peace, God's refreshing grace, and the joy of placing their lives in God's hands.
In taking Jesus' yoke upon us we not only share our burdens with Him, He asks us to share His burden too. Our mission, like John's, is to proclaim the imminent arrival of the Kingdom and urge people to be ready for it. It’s also like Jesus', to demonstrate this kingdom is a reality, both now and in the future. God will not ask too much from us, nor should we offer too little. His yoke is there to guide us, not to choke us. And we have the assurance that being yoked together, walking in step with God, we are never far from each other.  Rev Dr Sam Cappleman.

 

Commentary : Attributed to John Chrysostom  'I am gentle and humble in heart'

Our Master is always the same, gentle and benevolent. In his constant concern for our salvation, he says explicitly in the gospel just read to us:
Come, learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.
What great condescension on the part of the Creator! And yet the creature feels no shame!
Come, learn from me.
The Master came to console his fallen servants. This is how Christ treats us. He shows pity when a sinner deserves punishment. When the race that angers him deserves to be annihilated, he addresses the guilty ones in the kindly words:
Come, learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.
God is humble, and we are proud! The judge is gentle; the criminal arrogant! The potter speaks in lowered voice; the clay discourses in the tones of a king!
Come, learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.
Our master carries a whip not to wound, but to heal us. Reflect upon his indescribable kindness. Who could fail to love a master who never strikes his servants? Who would not marvel at a judge who beseeches a condemned criminal? Surely the self-abasement of these words must astound you.
I am the Creator and I love my work. I am the sculptor and I care for what I have made. If I thought of my dignity, I should not rescue fallen humankind. If I failed to treat its incurable sickness with fitting remedies, it would never recover its strength. If I did not console it, it would die. If I did nothing but threaten it, it would perish. This is why I apply the salve of kindness to it where it lies. Compassionately I bend down very low in order to raise it up. No one standing erect can lift a fallen man without putting a hand down to him.
Come, learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.
I do not make a show of words; I have left you the proof of my deeds. You can see that I am gentle and humble in heart from what I have become. Consider my nature, reflect upon my dignity, and marvel at the condescension I have shown you. Think of where I came from, and of where I am as I speak to you. Heaven is my throne, yet I talk to you standing on the earth! I am glorified on high, but because I am long-suffering I am not angry with you,
for I am gentle and humble in heart.

(Homily on Saint Bassus: Bareille, t. 4, 509-510)