“Come To Me, All You Who Labour”
This beautiful prayer found in Matthew and Luke, is a hymn of thanksgiving from Jesus to his Father. In sentiment it reflects John’s Gospel more than the Synoptics. Jesus thanks his Father for the success of his disciples’ mission, and for the understanding that has been granted them, “little ones”.
What is this ‘understanding’ which has been given to his disciples, simple and unlettered though they be ?
This ‘understanding’ is the proclamation of the ‘kingdom’, which is Jesus’s task, and which his disciples are invited to share in. The kingdom is not a physical or political space; it is a spiritual dimension, brought about by a change of attitude, first of all. This is the ‘Good News’. This is the meaning of the words “Repent ! Change your heart !”
A disciple of the ‘kingdom’ learns to live not by rules and regulations, not by doctrine and dogma, but by compassion and loving service towards others, no matter who they be. The proof that the kingdom has arrived is that “the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and demons are expelled” – in other words, health and physical well-being is given to all as a preparation for them to hear the Good News.
This transformation has been given the poor and the unlettered, who have been the first to reach out to Jesus and place their trust in him. It is true that their faith is often imperfect, but it is there – unlike the Jewish establishment, “the learned and the wise”, who only doubt Jesus, suspect his miracles, and refuse to accept him as their saviour.
The only way to God is through Jesus. “Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father.” To refuse to accept Jesus is to block one’s own access to God. This statement is a direct challenge to Jewish orthodoxy which believed that the Law of Moses was the complete revelation of God, and sufficient in itself.
In conclusion, Jesus invites all those who are weary and burdened under the various prescriptions of the Jewish Law, to come to him. Jesus’s “yoke is sweet and his burden light”. It doesn’t consist in new obligations, but in a new relationship -- the relationship of children, not of slaves; and its motivation is not compulsion, but love.
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