A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Our Gentle Invitation

Maria Kennedy

When we are invited into the gentle and humble embrace of Jesus, life doesn’t necessarily change, but our burdens are shared. We are not alone. Jesus walks beside us and our prayers are heard. And with our faith, we become aware of invisible strings of support. Jesus’ yoke really is hitched to ours, and our load is made lighter in deeply caring ways.

Let me tell you four stories to show you what I mean.

Betty, a retired widow, has just been sent home from the doctor’s surgery in a taxi with her left leg bandaged to the knee. Now she is at home, unable to drive, and with no family nearby, she suddenly feels at a loss. She was so concerned about the surgery, she has forgotten to post her granddaughter’s birthday card. Her prayer to Jesus is more an admission of her forgetfulness and her worry about the card arriving late. At that exact moment, the door bell rings. The next door neighbour has seen her hobble in from the taxi and she wants to know if there is anything she can do to help. Betty is gobsmacked and for a moment she can’t speak.

Tony, married with a young family to look after, has been made redundant. With a family to support, a mortgage to pay, he is deeply concerned where the future pay packets are going to come from. While driving home in the car, he prays to Jesus. He tells Jesus he feels helpless, overwhelmed, frustrated and very pessimistic about the job market. He is so worried, he is slow to respond to the traffic flow, and has to brake harder than he would like. The near miss jolts his senses and an image of his family flashes across his mind. He loves them with all his heart. Tony then tells Jesus he feels bad about letting them down. His wife is happy at home looking after the children. He smiled inwardly as he recalled the children pleading with him to make them a tree hut. They don’t have a tree in their back yard but they still want one anyway. As Tony turns into the driveway, a feeling of warmth now sits alongside his worries. Whatever happens, I will keep on loving my family, he thinks, and a new feeling of peace and optimism now accompanies him as he walks inside.

Meghan, wife and mother of three teenagers, has just been told she has breast cancer. Before bedtime Meghan likes to read the bible. While still very upset about her health news, she opens her bible on the daily gospel reading. It happens to be Matthew 8:23-27, about the storm on the Lake of Galilee. When Meghan reads this, something in the fear of the disciples speaks to her. Their fears and hers become combined. When Jesus is woken and calms the storm, Meghan feels this miracle belongs not just to the disciples but also to her. And when Jesus speaks, Meghan feels unexpectedly consoled. This health storm will pass. In that moment she knows this to be true. She will come through it. It’s as if Meghan has been given a prophetic message. When Meghan closes the bible, she still has no idea about her future, but she thinks Jesus has just told her she will be all right. As Meghan turns out the light, she hopes with all her heart she didn’t just imagine that. 

Barry, a school boy, with thread-bare school pants and scuffed shoes who even the bullies don’t mess with, walks past a church every day on his way to and from school. At the side of the church is a statue of a man nailed to a cross. Barry doesn’t know who he is, but he feels sorry for him, that poor man stuck up there on the cross like that. Jesus has noticed that school boy walking by and over the years Jesus and Barry slowly get to know each other. Barry, the adult, learns the man on the cross is called Jesus and he is on that cross for the sins of mankind. Barry is baptised and becomes a regular church goer. Barry still has no idea Jesus has been gently pursuing him all these years, even though Barry continues to have a soft spot for that man on the cross and anyone else that looks hard done by.

As we hitch our yoke to Jesus, sometimes prayers are answered with impeccable timing. In prayer to Jesus there is consolation and peace. Jesus speaks to us through others, the scriptures and through the spirit which sometimes brings prophecies and other spiritual gifts. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares very deeply for each and every one of us even if we aren’t aware of this.

Being hitched up to Jesus’ yoke, and through prayer and faith, our burdens become one with Jesus. The winning lottery numbers do not fall into our laps, and life does carry on with its share of joys and sorrows. But there are these graced moments, that with the eyes of faith, we see Jesus loving us with gentleness and humility, making our loads lighter and more bearable, especially in those darker times.

Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls
(Matthew 11:29).   

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