Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel we read, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened …” Lets examine 3 aspects of this passage:
- biblical perspective of burdens
- the 3 types of vocations in our tradition
- how the Lord gives rest to those who labor.
In the Old Testament the English word “burden” is translated from the Hebrew word “masSA.” There are different type of “burdens” listed in the Scripture:
- For example, in Exodus 23:5 – it is used to describe the burden of a donkey. “If you see the donkey of someone who hates you has fallen down under its burden, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help.”
- In Numbers 4:15 we read about the honor of carrying the burden or the weight of the Ark of the Covenant. The sons of Kohath carried the burden of the weight of the Ark of the Covenant as they moved the tabernacle from place to place in the wilderness. “Over the golden altar they shall spread a blue cloth and cover it with a covering of porpoise skin, They are to take all the articles used for ministering in the sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover that with the durable leather and put them on a carrying frame and insert its poles. After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting.
- Numbers 11:11; 17 describes the burden of responsibility where Moses is bearing the burden leadership of the Hebrews. In this passage, the Lord tells Moses to gather the seventy elders so that “they will help you carry the burden of the people.”
- In the New Testament, the Greek word, “baros” is used to describe Christian responsibility. Galatians 6:2 – “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
- In Acts 15:28 – “Baros” is also used to describe the decision of the first church council in Jerusalem
- “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place upon you any greater burden, ” namely, abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from immorality.”
- In Matthew 23:4, Jesus describes the heavy burdens the Pharisees laid upon the people “but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
So the word burden encompasses a number of ideas. Some are honorable – some are onerous. The distinction is important. Not all burdens are the same because not all burdens are good.
In a leadership video,”When a Role is Destructive,” Willow Creek Pastor, Bill Hybels, describes an interaction with an employee when he came up with the concept of the difference between “do-able” hard and “destructive” hard. “Do-able hard” is the responsibility of the employee. The responsibility for “destructive hard” rests with the employer who needs to determine what must be done to honor the dignity of the worker and reduce their burden.
We must recognize the difference between burdens that are right for us to bear and burdens that are wrong. We should never bear the burdens of sin or doubt, but there are some burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off. God wants us to roll them back onto Him— to literally “cast your burden,” which He has given you, “on the Lord….”
But casting your burden upon the Lord doesn’t mean God does the work and you sit on the couch watching ball games eating Herr’s potato chips. Noble burdens are tied into vocations. In the Catechism and in the Scriptures we see 3 types:
- Call to holiness
- State of life (married, consecrated, religious, deacon, priest)
- “A work of love to which you have been assigned and called by God, and through which He is going to change you and change with world around you.”
Here are three biblical principles concerning burdens:
- Only carry the burden that has been assigned to you! “Busy” is not the same as “fruitful.” One is from God; one is not. And anything not for God comes either from yourself – and that’s pride, or from Satan- and that’s evil. Consider the biblical passage from today’s Gospel, “Take my yoke upon you … For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
- Discern your tasks. Discernment comes from the Latin word “dis – cenere” to separate apart; to cut away.
- You can only discern correctly if you have a personal relationship with Christ. Revisiting “My Utmost For His Highest” – “Many servants set out to serve God with great courage and with the right motives. But with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, they are soon defeated.”
Your to do list this week:
- Pray to The Lord.
- Ask for the intercession of Mary or St. Joseph
- Ask them to reveal to you what, in your life, is busyness – and what is fruitfulness.
- Drop something.
- Encourage yourself with scripture. See references below:
Audio version of the homily is here:
1. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). God is glad to carry your burdens and give you the daily strength you need.
2. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6). It’s not God’s will that you should be crushed down with excessive burdens; let Him free you today.
3. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). Jesus will remove your heavy burden of guilt and hopelessness and give you true rest in Him.
4. “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13). God promises to support and help you through every trial.
5. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6, 7). Just knowing your heavenly Father cares about you personally can make any load seem lighter.
6. “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4). The Lord desires to constantly support you throughout your life, with the intention of saving you eternally.
7. “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom” (Isaiah 40:11). The Good Shepherd will gladly bear you in His gentle arms right now.
8. “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17). If you belong to Him, God will always listen when you call to Him for help.
9. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Through faith His strength becomes yours, and He reaches out to keep you from falling.
10. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). When God has lightened your burdens, He asks you to do the same for others.
Further scripture references concerning “burdens” are here.
Why not come to Jesus today and allow Him to relieve you of your heavy load? Learn more about Jesus by clicking here.