Jesus does not dismiss the burdens of life. On the contrary, Jesus recognizes just how heavy they are and, in the midst of the struggles of our lives, he assures us to be with us and help us.
We are not asked to set our burdens down at the door of the church as we enter. But rather, we are invited to bring them to the altar and place them side by side with the bread and wine which we offer to be blessed and broken, transformed and shared.
This Jesus, the Christ, knows first hand of our human burdens and understands our suffering. We need not fear that our God does not understand, or does not care. The message of all of Jesus’ preaching and teaching was the exact opposite: our God knows us and loves us deeply and passionately and walks with us in the midst of our sufferings; our God weeps with us when we weep and suffers with us when we suffer. And as the Body of Christ, we are invited to reach out to others whose burdens and pain overwhelm them… to be the compassion of Christ to them…to help carry their burdens and to walk with them in the midst of their suffering. As Pope Francis said, to “be a sign of mercy”.
Welcoming the stranger, the immigrant, the one who is “other”, is an authentic living out of our discipleship…it incarnates the Gospel in the midst of our community.
Ironically in our reaching out to others, often our burdens are lightened, our wounds begin to heal and we become more and more the living Body of Christ. We become the face of the mercy of God.
Do I have burdens or old wounds that I am holding on to and not giving over to Jesus, that getting rid of might allow me to be more available to my sisters and brothers in need? Whose burden or pain am I being called to help carry, and how might I do that? How might I become the face of mercy to those who are suffering?