Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
Jesus invites all who are weary and overburdened to come to him and find rest.
In a biography of Paul Keating called ‘Recollections of a Bleeding Heart’ , Don Watson, his former speechwriter naturally begins by situating his subject in a human and cultural context. Describing the kind of community that prevailed in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown in the 40`s and 50`s, which had an Irish Catholic heritage of Labor voters, Watson concludes: ‘There were also the comforts of religion and tradition and if one of the traditions was sectarian, who knows if that was not another source of certainty’. In support of this he cited the example of the young Paul on one occasion throwing a Protestant boy’s cap over the wall when as students they were on their way home from school.
Nowadays as we see in the case of our Prime Minister who says she doesn`t believe in God, belonging to a Labor heartland doesn`t mean espousing Catholic or even Christian values. The Church had a prominent voice in those days but now even the image of the church itself has become tarnished in many countries.
We live in very different kinds of communities nowadays and in a different kind of world. The old certainties have vanished and the comforts of religion have greatly diminished. But the question arises – have people lost something valuable in all this? The problems and stresses , the sicknesses and accidents of life still happen as they always did, but now people find themselves more vulnerable than ever, more exposed and often more defenseless in every way. Being without God doesn`t add up to a happier existence.
The comforts of religion are certainly exemplified in what we read in the word of God in the gospel today, as well as in the wider liturgy of the word. Friday was the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a symbol which reminds us of the welcome Jesus extends to people who are weighed down with burdens of any kind. The gospel passage today is probably suggested by the nearness of this feast – `Take my yoke on you and earn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls.`
Many people can talk freely about God and religious matters but the talk tends to remain at the level of pub conversation or even politics speak. But we need to get to know the Lord with our hearts as well as our heads. Someone has pointed out that the eighteen inches between the head and the heart is crucial. ( The length depends I suppose on the size of your head!) Jesus states that `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`. Knowledge here is something very intimate and personal. In the scriptures, the word `to know` was a euphemism for sexual relations. You remember Mary replied to the angel, `How can this be since I know not man?
In our encounter with Christ in the Eucharist today we have the opportunity of growing together in intimate knowledge and trust in God and Jesus.
So we can ask ourselves who are we then? We are a group of people who freely and lovingly acknowledge God’s sovereignty over us. Under the old law God’s people acknowledged this by means of a sacrificial system, a priesthood and an identity of their own. We acknowledge these same basic facts when take part in the Eucharist.