Wednesday 13 December 2017

About Today Readings

Advent Season of Creation. St Lucy.

Isaiah 40:25-31. Psalm 102(103):1-4, 8, 10. Matthew 11:28-30.

O bless the Lord, my soul – Psalm 102(103):1-4, 8, 10.

‘Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.’



There are many things about the build-up to Christmas that can make us scratch our heads. One is that it is almost certainly the busiest time of year. There are Christmas functions at work as well all the clubs and communities we are part of. There are things to buy, things to cook, things to make and things to wrap. There are people to thank and people who want to thank us. There used to be cards to send. Now there are texts and emails. They take just as long but don’t look so good hanging on anyone’s venetian blinds.

Pope Francis has pointed out that running around all the time has the effect of alienating us from our what really matters. In his encyclical, Laudato Si, he says

Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid the constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearances? Many people today sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes them feel busy, in a constant hurry which in turn leads them to ride rough-shod over everything around them. This too affects how they treat the environment.

We inhabit a culture that expects us to be exhausted all the time. It keeps buzzing in our ears, making us feel anxious and inadequate because of what we don’t have or haven’t done. Many of the words we hear this week from the prophet Isaiah use images from the natural environment: mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, deserts, grass, flowers, cliffs, ridges and so on. The unmistakable message is that the promises of the Lord to which we try to listen during Advent are promises for the whole of creation. It is possible that we are so caught up in the things created by the human family that we don’t listen as carefully as we might. The prophet says that ‘the young may grow tired and weary.’ It can only be worse for the rest of us who are not so young.

Today’s Gospel includes one of the most welcome invitations in the whole of scripture: ‘Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.’ These words touch such a profound yearning in us that for our Anglican friends, at least those who follow the Book of Common Prayer, they are read at every celebration of the Eucharist. St Ignatius also asks us to rest in the presence of the Lord’s creation. At the start of the Spiritual Exercises, he writes: ‘It is not knowing much, but realising and relishing things interiorly, that contents and satisfies the soul.’ He asks us to put a break on all the things that can seem more important than they really are. When it comes to contemplating the birth of Jesus, Ignatius asks us to use all our senses ‘as if I found myself present.’ The key word is present. ‘And all this for me’ he writes, almost like a child who has found their Christmas stocking.


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