Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection 7-14-22

Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection
Reflection for the 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 7-14-22, Year C
Readings: Is 26:7-9, 12, 16-19; Ps 102:13-14ab, 15-21; Gospel Mt 11:28-30
Memorial: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin
Theme: Burden of Our Own Making

In today’s fast-paced life, we can build up burdens that, in and of themselves are not necessarily burdensome, but as a whole, they are. Why do our days go by so fast? Is it because we have filled every waking moment with something to do? Sometimes we can feel like we just graduated high school, but in reality, we are retiring!

There is such a propensity to have to fill up our days with something, someone, home, work, entertainment and recreation, travels, festivals, and dining out. The list is long of the things we do day in a day out. What happened to the days of sitting in our favorite chair with a good book in our hands listening to the rain fall on a summer’s afternoon? Even more so, where is the time to just sit quietly and speak to God or just let Him speak to us? Sometimes we find ourselves hoping for a Mayberry Day with Barney Fife, Aunt Bee, and Opie in more simple times with seemingly less cares.

Thinking back to those old nostalgic days is just that, nostalgic. The human mind has a tendency to remember the good more so than the bad as time goes on. Barney Fife, I am sure, had his fill of struggles to where it was not all apple pie, porch sitting, and fishing poles. For us, today it is more difficult because of the sheer nature of how close we are connected to the world, events, people, and information. There is a constant demand for every moment of our time.

In Jesus’s time, it was not that much different. Rather than being consumed by today’s social media sites, politics, and work, the Jews were consumed with obeying the Law. The burden of some 600 plus laws to follow under the scrutiny of the priest and scribes was heavy. Jesus tells those who labor and are burdened by laws that all they have to do is come and follow Him. His yoke of love for one another is light and His burden of righteousness is easy. Jesus offers forgiveness, love, and friendship versus isolation, lording over them, and scrutiny by the chief priests and scribes.

Jesus offers to each of us some of that slower Mayberry time, where we can walk with Him, fishing poles in hand, to the pond where the fish always bite. He is a constant light on the shore guiding us past the rocks and perils in the sea of our lives. H is the only one left when we stumble and fall off our pedestal where no one else cares to lift a finger for us. All this He does for us without expectation of anything in return, even though His biggest desire for us is to love Him back. That is all we have to do, love Jesus back. However you do it, break down your day to find the time to love Him back. It is ok to not have something to do for an hour of your day so you can relax and spend time with Jesus on the porch just chewing the fat.

A prime example of someone making time for Jesus is St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to become a saint. She was so devoted to Jesus, after being introduced to Him by the missionaries, that she fell in love with Jesus. She could think of nothing more than to spend all day with Jesus doing his work of charity among all people. The cost of losing her tribal family, the life she knew, and her parents would have been a heavy burden to carry. But Jesus made it light for her. Kateri was born in 1656 in New York state. At age 14, she was first introduced to Jesus by missionaries. From then on, her life was changed, and all she could think about was following and loving Him. She led a life of virtue and charity, making a private vow of virginity in 1679. Kateri died at the age of 24 in 1680. She was known as the “Lilly of the Mohawks.” In 1980 Kateri was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II and finally in 2012 was canonized by Pope Benedict the XVI.

Like St. Kateri, we can also find a more simple, devoted life in Jesus. We just have to step back, look at our lives and realize what we have filled them with. I bet when most of us do, we will find very little of that time is spent with Jesus. The burdens we carry can be so heavy we cannot see the cart of Jesus right in front of us to put them on. 

Parcel out a part of every day to just relax and spend time with Jesus. His cart is ready to carry your burdens away and leave you refreshed and anew with His love for you. In return, you will not be able to help but love Him back.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL