LET’S go back again to those beautiful words of Christ about rest, relishing them and deepening our understanding of them if only to develop the proper and relevant attitudes, skills and practices, so helpful to us who are often harassed by a lot of work, pressures and concerns.
Gone now are the days of relative peace and tranquility, of innocence and ease, what with all the galloping pace of development in practically all aspects of our life—personal, familial, social, economic, political, technological, etc.
These developments can either simplify or complicate our life, depending on which turn we take. They too can have both effects, but, of course, taken in different senses.
Thus, it is most important, especially these days, that we know where the source of true rest is and how we can refresh and renew ourselves even in the middle of our work.
“Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke and learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart. And you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” (Mt 11,28-30)
These words were already presaged in the Book of Isaiah: “They that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall take wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (40,31)
These are words that have to be taken with faith. As such, they require us to trust God and to believe in him. They ask us to make some kind of a leap in the dark despite what we can immediately see, feel and understand around us. That’s because these words can sound too sweet or too good to be true.
The fact is that we have enough miracles in the gospel, especially that tremendous resurrection of Christ from the dead, that should lend credibility to his words in the absence of immediate and concrete proofs of their veracity. We need to hold on to this knowledge to keep our faith alive particularly when we are heavily tested in life.
Christ clearly invites us to go to him when we are working and are burdened. Our main problem is that we tend to ignore him when we work. We only go to him when we meet some difficulty in our work. We tend to believe that we can just rely on our own resources.
We have to correct this dangerous attitude. Though we may be endowed with great physical and intellectual powers and many other talents and privileges, we should always realize that we need God always when we use them.
Our powers are finite and often choosy. When we reach their limits, then we have no means to keep on going, especially in the face of darkness, tiredness, trials, failures. Even the usual daily work routine can lead us only to boredom.
We have to realize that God, being the creator and author of everything, including our very own life, is the unfailing source of joy and peace, of perfect communion with him and among ourselves, which are the very substance of rest.
To be sure, rest is not only a physical affair. The whole man, body and soul, needs to rest and to continually revitalize himself as he goes on working and expending his energy. What sustains him is much more than just physical or biological elements. It is God, his grace, his light and strength.
Remember what St. Paul once said, “I know both how to be brought low and I know how to abound…both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all these things in him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4,12)
The spiritual impulses when one is vitally united to Christ are even palpable. One sees greater light, feels a sense of meaning and purpose, experiences an indescribable sense of peace and joy.
Though the body gets tired, the spirit continues to be vibrant, reflecting what Christ himself said: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Mt 26,41) That’s why asked his apostles, and us, to “watch and pray.”
This is the secret of finding rest while working, of continually refreshing and renewing ourselves even as we expend our energies. It is to “watch and pray.” We should never be entirely dependent on our human powers, for if they are not empowered by grace, they can only go so far.
This good news should reach all, especially those who are working.