A striking experience happened on our boat ride at the Lake of Galilee.  One of our companions, Sanny, lost his teenage child, the only daughter, to leukemia in 1992.  And while he is today actively serving the Lord, he secretly harbored anger and regrets. In his wallet he always carried the picture of his daughter and strands of her hair that he kept after a chemotherapy treatment. 

That morning was peaceful and the waters were serene around the lake. I encouraged my companions to entrust to the Lord things that pressed hard on their hearts and souls, things that robbed them of joy and peace.  Then we sang a song that filled us with deep emotions. There was not a single dry eye there.  Sanny took out his wallet and slowly released his daughter’s hair into the waters, feeling a surge of peace and freedom.  His bitter heart has found rest.  Now, he said, after more than 10 years, “my life can move forward.”

The song we sang that morning came from today’s gospel: “and he said ‘cast your burdens upon me all who are heavily laden.  Come to me all of you who are tired of carrying heavy loads. For the yoke I will give you is easy and my burden is light. Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

How many times have we heard those words of Jesus?  How many times have we taken them seriously? These are words of gentleness but also words of power.  It contains a message that every person today and our entire world need to hear.  We wake up to bad news.  We live our lives amidst stress.  We go through life facing crises in our society one after the other.  Now, rice shortage, tomorrow, oil price hike. Now, scandal in the government, then follow intrigues in the church. Even children are not immune from all these shattering challenges and their innocence to the world is lost so early.

These words are even more important to us in our own strivings for meaning. Who is not tired of confronting problems related to the family or to work and finances?  Who is not burdened with problems in relating with people who make existence hard and bitter?  Some of us have lingering illness that limits our capacity to move around as we please.  Some of us live in fear and shame and we hope to be able to face the world with joy and confidence.  So many people are harassed and tired, filled with anger and regrets.  Many people feel alienated from God and from others because of sin.

Jesus invites us today to trust him.  He comes as our Savior but not the one Israel expected him to be – a powerful king, a mighty warrior.  He comes as the humble Son of God offering his friendship and love and dwelling with us so that he can understand our experiences totally so that he can accompany us in our faltering steps. He knows we need rest from all our cares and he says “come.”

Let us pray fervently today taking the words of Jesus as words of hope for our tired hearts and restless minds. Let us move closer to him by abandoning everything into his hands. Cast your cares on him, because he cares for you, says St. Peter. In this Eucharist, Jesus offers to us the rest that eludes us in the world.  He offers us the peace that he reserves to those who approach him in faith.  Come…and take your rest.