Thursday, July 14, 2016

Reflection for the 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Come to Me

They must be some of the most comforting words in all of Scripture: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” They paint a beautiful image of someone standing next to Jesus, resting his head on His shoulder.

When we look at the original Greek words of this verse, its meaning deepens even more, and its richness becomes clearer. The Greek for “come” is deute. It is an imperative, i.e., a command. It is a strong, exclamatory word that doesn't leave much room for argument. Jesus is insisting that His people come near immediately.

Who are these people Jesus is speaking to? Those who labor and are burdened. The idea of laboring is expressed by a participle of the verb kopiaō. It does not mean merely working; it means working until one is exhausted and completely worn out. Jesus knows that we all feel like this some times. He also knows that we are frequently burdened, in Greek a passive participle of the verb phortizō, which means to be overloaded and weighed down. Our lives and our cares often press down upon us, making us feel like we can't move. Jesus understands this.

That's why He tells us to come to Him, and He will give us rest. The Greek verb here is anapauō in which the verb pauō, to pause, is intensified by the prefix ana, completely. Jesus will give us complete pause, the refreshing rest that we need after the difficulties and struggles of our daily lives.

To receive this rest, we need only to go to Jesus, to set our “normal” activities aside and sit at His feet in prayer, speaking to Him and listening to His words in liturgy, in Scripture, and in our hearts. This is the true rest that will strength us to love Jesus more and serve Him better in whatever we do.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on 

Friday – A Prayer Answered

King Hezekiah was about to die. The prophet Isaiah made that clear when he visited him with a message from God, Who told him to get his affairs in order.

Hezekiah, however, didn't lose hope. Instead, he turned to God in prayer and weeping.

And God responded with a new message from the prophet. He had heard Hezekiah's prayers and had seen his tears, and He would grant the king a great grace. Hezekiah would be healed and live fifteen more years. He would go up to the temple and worship God, and God would protect him and his people from their enemies. God even gave the king a miraculous sign to confirm His promise.

Just look at the power of prayer here. A dying man receives a renewed life and even a miracle. He turned to God and trusted Him, and God answered in a wonderful way. Prayer is both beautiful and mysterious. We know it works because God has told us so, but our limited human minds cannot understand exactly how. So, like Hezekiah, we place ourselves in God's hands, let Him figure out the details, and prepare to be amazed and greatly loved.

Saturday – A Bruised Reed and a Smoldering Wick

In today's Gospel, Jesus applies to Himself a message from the prophet Isaiah that announces God's Servant, the Beloved, Who would be filled with God's Spirit and proclaim justice to all the nations.

This Servant will bring hope even to the most broken among the people. He will not break the bruised reed, nor will He snuff out the smoldering wick. We are all bruised reeds and smoldering wicks sometimes. We are all fragile. We all struggle with trials and sufferings that threaten to overwhelm us. We all make mistakes and commit sins. At times, the flame of our love and even our life seems to be on the verge of going out.

Jesus will not break us or snuff us out. Instead, He wants to help us grow strong. He wants to heal us, put us back together, and rekindle our flames that we may burn brightly before the world. He longs to shower us in forgiveness and grace. That's how much He loves us.

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