14TH JULY 2022
THE INVITATION TO REST IS A GIFT
In today's Gospel reading, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavily laden and I will give you rest. “For this rest to be given you have to labour and be heavy laden otherwise from what will you be resting?
The first thing we note from the opening phrase," Come to me," is that this passage is written in the first person. It is Jesus himself speaking and inviting us to rest.
The second thing to note is the very first word, "Come. “Though this is put in the imperative form, it feels much more like an entreaty or an appeal than a command. The tone is gentle and inviting not demanding. It is not like," Come here," but more like a supplication. "Come. I invite you to join me." It's an invitation to rest and we know that an invitation can be declined.
We can have a look at other instance in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus has used the word come to invite people to join him and we will notice that the word still carries it an appeal.
In Matthew 14:22-32, Jesus walks on water, something that terrifies his disciples because they think that he is a ghost and he tells Peter, "Come" when Peter says, “Lord if it is really you, order me to come out on the water to you. "It's still an invitation.
In Matthew 16:24-28, Jesus says to his disciples," If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget self, carry his cross and follow me. "Though it is an imperative statement, it still has the option of choosing to go to Jesus or not.
Another example is in Matthew 19:16-30 in which Jesus tells the rich young man," If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor and you will have riches in heaven then come and follow me." It is still an invitation because being told "come" entails choosing to go or not to go where you are being beckoned.
If the word come is associated with invitation then it is important because an invitation is normally geared towards one important and particular aspect and here it is the aspect of rest. An invitation has no generalizations and this brings about an understanding of the situation and a sense of belonging.
An invitation makes you decide what to leave and stop doing and choose to do the exact opposite of what you are accustomed to. An invitation sets the tone because you already know what to expect and what to expect really determines your yes or no to the invitation.
In relation to today's Gospel reading, we have the invitation to rest meaning we will understand why we need to rest and there is no any other expectation apart from resting. That is the tone of the invitation well captured by the word "come."
As we all know, an invitation can be declined. What can make us decline the invitation to rest? Is it because we have a lot to accomplish? Is it because we the saviour mentality? Is it because we fear being called lazy? Is it because we fear losing out or that things will go wrong? Is it because work holism is becoming trendy? The invitation to rest is an important aspect of our discipleship because when we positively respond to it we are enabled to live it by the One who calls us to rest and this rest is a gift and a gift can only be received if one is willing.
Jesus also says, " Take my yoke and learn from me," and as you think of saying yes to the gift of resting, may it also come with vital spiritual and faith lessons for you.