Readings (Year A):
Reflection: We are not alone in our lowest moments
Why does the buttered side of toast always seem to fall face down on the kitchen floor?
If McDonalds is open 24/7 and promises dollar cones, why is the ice cream machine consistently out of service?
Why does my printer never work when I’m in a rush, but operates seamlessly every other time?
If a USB drive has two sides, why—without fail—does it take me three attempts to fit it properly into my computer port?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
These are the questions that have no answers. Or rather, we can attempt to answer them—and people have been, for as long as there have been USB ports, fast food joints, and bad things happening—but rarely do the answers feel adequate. Rarely do logic and perceived certainty satisfy in the face of life’s mysteries.
Today’s gospel and psalm offer an alternative to answers.
Jesus doesn’t say, “You who labor and are burdened, come to me, and I will explain to you why; I will tell you what led to your misfortune and I will make clear how the wayward ways of the world have led to your personal demise.” Instead, he gently advises, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”
In lieu of answers, Jesus offers accompaniment.
Likewise, today’s Psalmist proclaims, “The Lord lifts up all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.”
There is no attempted explanation for why the falling have tumbled or how the bowed down have gotten to be in such a position, but rather, reassurance that God joins and assists those who struggle. Psalm 145 paints a picture of faithful, kind, and merciful God who is slow to anger and accessible to us in our times of need.
I’m all about asking the questions that have no answers. Growth so often starts with a simple quandary, a curious stance, a wondering about why people and circumstances are the way that they are. But sometimes, we can get so caught up in the questions and in seeking precise answers that we blind ourselves to other goods. We miss out on receiving rest when we become so preoccupied with knowing why rest is needed in the first place.
Today’s readings remind us: We are not alone in our lowest moments, whatever brought us to them. God the creator and God the redeemer invite us into relationship and provide strength along life’s journey. May our hearts be open to receiving such sustenance. May we accept the light burden that Jesus offers. May our weary bodies and souls find rest in God’s gracious and merciful ways.