Readings: Isaiah 40:25-31; Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus confuses me. I love this gospel but my first reaction hearing Jesus words ‘I am gentle and humble in heart’ is to say ‘who are you kidding?’
We used to have a big red poster downstairs, done by Cafod I think, with a face of Jesus, Ché Guevara-style, and the words ‘Meek. Mild. As if!’ Someone nicked it—or maybe it was taken down in protest. Either way they were wise.
Gentle. Humble. As if. It’s not just the Temple-cleansing incident, the argy-bargy with the authorities, or the increasingly outrageous claims he makes for himself—it’s not even the yoke and burden we’ve since fashioned from his words—it’s the whole idea, the very foundation, of his mission: ‘Come to me’, he says. Who does he think he is? ‘Come to me and I will give you rest, rest for your soul’.
Rest for the soul—who doesn’t need it? We long for our unburdening. God knows there is enough weight across our shoulders—whether imposed by others or worn by habit.
Isn’t that what Advent is for? To see through the gentleness of our illusions and feel again the rod of our oppressors, weigh once more the burdens upon us, reconsider the yoke of our bondage. And yearn for freedom—long for a liberator. Need one more than comfort and calm.
‘Come to me’, Jesus says but who does he think he is? Isaiah paints a picture of a real God, a God to get the job done—a celestial sergeant major, strong, powerful, and untiring. Part of me would like that kind of liberation. But the answer to all my advent longing will not be him at all but a baby. It’s like those T-shirts—‘My parents went on holiday and all I got was this lousy T-shirt’. I’ve waited, longed, yearned and all I get, is Jesus—complicated, vulnerable, human Jesus. So much more and so much less than I deserve.