“Come to me… you will find rest”

A sermon/reflection for The Fourth Sunday after Trinity

The readings for this Sunday are those of Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday:

  • Genesis 24.34-38, 42-49, 58-67

  • Psalm 4145.8-15

  • Romans 7.15-25a

  • Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30

You might like to use the link below to find the above readings for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, Year A, and click on any of the reading above that you wish to use:

http://www.katapi.org.uk/CommonWorship/CWLectionarySelV.php

Collect of the day 

God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
one God, now and for ever.

Prayer before the Sermon

Loving Heavenly Father,
we thank you for the words you have given us today.
We know they are words of life and salvation.
Open our hearts Father,
touch our souls,
forgive us our sins especially our lack of faith,
help us to respond to your word.
May we know that you are our Lord and Saviour
who promises us the power from on high,
your Holy Spirit.
May we experience in our hearts
your love and your presence always.

Amen. 

Homily

Come to me … you will find rest …

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”. (Mt 11. 28)

(Story of faith/Testimony)

Jesus tells us today: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”(28) These words, often called ‘the comfortable words’ and a great promise on the part of Jesus, I think, are absolutely relevant for us today in the context of Covid-19 and also the problems of all sorts we are facing today in the context of a stressful and frenetic life.

First of all, we can try to understand these words of Jesus in the context of Jesus’ own time and culture. Jesus was a Jew and lived at a time when the Pharisees, the leaders of the Jews, overburdened the people with all sorts of laws and regulations that were like a burden on people’s consciences.

In this context, the coming of Jesus was like a breath of fresh air because Jesus  provided people with an alternative, he offered people to a new way of life, a life based not solely on the fulfilment of laws but on a life of love of God and love of neighbour. Jesus invited people to go to him and accept his new commandment of love and forgiveness.

Secondly, we can understand these words of Jesus (Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”) in the context of the world and life today, our own contexts. We too are overburdened and troubled by what the world presents us with today. The news isn’t much ‘good news’ in the social, economic or political contexts. The Covid-19 has only increased our fear, our anxiety, our uncertainty on a variety of fronts.

As we heard in the second reading of today, from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, our personal situation is very similar to the one of Paul faced. Apart from the social, political, economic or cultural levels, on a personal level, many of us feel disillusioned and in disarray, lost and confused, even hopeless. We don’t seem to pull the right stops and our life seems overtaken by a rhythm, a dynamic and logic that we do not understand. Paul felt exactly that.

We heard Paul’s own personal inner struggle and lament:  “I do not understand my own actions….. (Rom 7.15) … I can will what is right, but I cannot do it (18) For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do (19). Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me (20).” Paul in fact moans aloud his fate: “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (24) But the good thing is that Paul knows the answer. He knows who is the answer as he says: Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (25)

We can say similar things: Who will rescue us from our problems and our crises, our questions and our doubts, our insecurities and fears? Like Paul we also can say “Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ Our Lord!”

The answer for our lives is, indeed, Jesus Christ! The problem is that we do not really follow Jesus nor fully make a fundamental option in life for him. We forget the commitment we made at our Baptism/Christening when we decided to follow Jesus Christ. We have not deepened that commitment, nor have we tried to deepen that faith relationship with him. In fact, the whole message of Christianity is “God loves you. He loves you as you are. He came for you. You are lovable in His sight. He died for you. You are cherished and precious in His sight.”

Jesus tells us today: “Come to me…and I will give you rest.” We have to go to Jesus. How do we do that? By believing in him, by trusting in him and his word, by making a decision to follow him, by accepting him and loving him with an exclusive primacy and intimacy in our lives. It quite over the top and sounds a lover’s language. But that is what it is. We are either with him or we are against him. The opposite of love is not hatred but indifference!

Love is the language of maximum possibilities, not of minimum obligations.

We have listened to his word. We will soon share in the meal of Love and Sacrifice that he offers us in this Holy Communion. We will share in his body and blood and we will seal again in our hearts our oneness with Christ. Let us accept his invitation: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”.

Let us pray.

 

Prayer

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God.
Thank you for becoming one of us.
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.
Thank you for rising from the dead to give me hope
and the gift of eternal life.
I repent of my sins and invite you into heart and life
as my Lord and Saviour.
Please grant me your Holy Spirit
so that I may know you, love you
and follow you every day of my life.

Amen.

in our thoughts and prayers

 

Some Prayers/ Intercessions for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity

As services are now suspended in churches, do use/ share these intercessions at home or on line.

“Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected,
it will wither and die.”

Jesus is alive.
Love has won the victory over evil and death.

My friends, let us gather ourselves in silence as we give thanks to the Lord, whose love has no end and humbly bring our prayers and petitions to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.   (short pause for silent prayer)

That the Church in this country may rediscover her origins in the Holy Spirit, that the Queen as governor of the Church and head of the government may be blessed by God’s Holy Spirit; (short pause for silent prayer)

That politicians and leaders of Churches and the government may work for the common good at all levels and that the present Covid-19 crisis and social problems be resolved adequately peacefully for the good of the country and continent;

(short pause for silent prayer)

Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ, you travelled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.

Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.

Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another.

Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.  (short pause for silent prayer)

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.

Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.

Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.

Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace. (short pause for silent prayer)

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.

Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.

Jesus Christ, heal us. (short pause for silent prayer)

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Let us pause a moment, become aware of our breathing, relax in the presence of the Lord and humbly tell him what is deepest in our hearts for he knows us, loves us and forgives us.

(after a silent, slightly longer pause …)

Father,
we feel loved,
we feel forgiven,
we feel saved.
Thank you for Jesus Christ your Son
who died for us on the cross
and rose again from the dead
and who offers us
true peace and true hope.
Help us to hold on to him
and to follow him
the way, the truth and the life.

Amen.