Today as we celebrate the life of St Ambrose, Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (11: 28-30) in which Jesus says ‘Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest’.Fr Paul continues to read from the ‘Heart of the Disciple’ resource and invites us to consider the following: We often think of Jesus as a woodworker, but chances are he would also have been familiar with working with stone. Stonemasonry was likely the trade for many Nazarene men. It was a gruelling and difficult occupation involving massive objects and heavy tools. Either way, he and Joseph would have been quite familiar with what a hard day’s work felt like. They would have had large, strong, callused hands and suntanned skin. They were undoubtedly very strong. They would have come home tired, hot and hungry to the heart of the family. They were working men. They knew how to work, and like anyone familiar with hard work, they knew how to rest. In our contemporary culture perhaps many of us have forgotten what it means to truly rest. Here we are talking about that deep rest that allows us to recharge and is quite different to doing ‘nothing’. True rest is not about the absence of activity, but about allowing yourself to be at peace and to feel the deep refreshment that comes with being at one with yourself and those things that are important to an authentic life. As valuable as that is in itself, the rest that Jesus is referring to in today’s reading is much more than that. He is inviting us into a level of rest that only a deep confidence in God can instil. It is not something we can achieve under our own efforts, but only something we can receive. It’s a divine rest. It’s a special grace, and it’s truly a little miracle. Pope Francis writes, “Let us learn to rest in the tenderness of the arms of the Father” (EG, 279). The rest that Jesus gives does not require us to stop working. In fact, Jesus doesn’t propose a change to what we’re doing at all. Jesus knows that, frankly, some people don’t have the luxury to stop working, yet his message applies even to them. Jesus promises that if we simply come to him with our burdens, he will give us rest. This rest is a divine grace that puts our deepest self at ease. It’s a form of rest that no busy-ness can take away, no amount of labour can deplete, and no task can overcome. On days that burden you, go to Jesus and ask for his divine rest. Receive it. For our reflection and discussion today, there is something very appealing about the rest that Jesus offers, but how do I truly embrace it? What needs to change in me so that I can receive what he is offering? And today we pray: Lord Jesus, you invite me to come to you for rest, a rest that comes from knowing that I am loved, accepted and healed. Help me increasingly to spend my time and energy on serving you, bringing about your kingdom in this world, and so enter the rest that you have for me. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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