COME - TAKE - LEARN

Rev. John Kha Tran

Five-year-old Betty lived right next door to the rectory. One unusually cold morning she toddled over while Father Jack was trying to start his car. Again and again he pushed the starter button but it wouldn’t start. His patience was almost at breaking point when little Betty decided to help him.
She advised:  “I think I know how to start it. You have to say ‘dammit’ like my daddy does.” (Arthur Tonne Vol.2).

Tired and Pain

Last Friday morning, I was watering the plants in front of the house. A thirteen years old boy walked to the rectory with his grandmother to see father Humberto. While his grandmother was talking to Fr. Humberto, he chatted with me. He complained that he was tired.
“What did you do to be tired?” I asked him.
His reply was, “Yesterday I stayed up too late to watch T. V.”

We can get tired by working too much or by watching too much of television or surfing the internet. And most of us get tired not from physical labors but from our mental fatigue. It consumes our energy to deal with customers all day long. It is draining and stressful to sit long hours in front of a computer screen. Many of us have jobs that are repetitive or that require precision and detail attention, and so we drag ourselves into our homes barely able to put one foot in front of the other. We’re tired! We’re exhausted! We are beat!

According to the Sleep Foundation, more than 60 percent of Americans get less than the eight hours standard required of sleep. Forty-three percent of Americans report that several days each month they are too sleepy to perform efficiently at work or at home. When we are tired, we tend to be grouchy, cranky and short-tempered with our loved ones.

It is not only the adults who are having problem with not having enough sleep. There was a report recently that many children and teenagers are also not having enough sleep, because they have their own set of televisions and computers in their rooms; and they spend long hours in the later evening watching T. V. or using computers. They become less productive in school, more tired and moody as well.

A new report finds at least 116 million U. S. adults experience long-lasting pain. The institute of Medicine report shows chronic pain costs the nation even more than heart disease in medical bills, sick days and lost productivity. The report calls effective pain management a moral imperative and urges a series of steps to transform the field (Associated Press, June 30th, 2011).

What do you do when you feel tired, frustrated or stressful?

A mom was playing cops and robbers in the backyard on a summer evening. One of her boys pointed a toy gun and shouted, “Bang, you’re dead.” She slumped to the ground, and when she didn’t get up, a neighbor ran over to see what was wrong.
As the neighbor bent over, Mom opened one eye and whispered, “Shhhh . . . don’t blow my cover. It’s the only chance I get to rest.”

Jesus’ Invitation

Jesus’ words speak of the source of comfort for those who labor and are burdened: “Come to me, all you who labor and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus is asking us to do three things in this invitation:

  • To come to him,
  • To take up his yoke,
  • To learn from him.

People have different ways to cope with stress. Some yells and curses; others become quiet and shut down. Some turns to food and drinks; others turn to smoke or drugs. Some turns entertainments of different kinds; others go to church, turn to God and pray. And Jesus is inviting us to come to him for comfort.

Come

For the last several weeks, four persons of the staff in the parish’s office were leaving. I have to look for others to fill their positions. It was stressful. What kind of persons are we going to hire? Are they going to serve the parish well? Every day I went to the chapel in the evenings to pray. I said, “Jesus, it is your church! Please send some good one here to serve your people! I know and believe that you will send us the people who will work best for the parish.”  And he does. We now have a wonderful new Youth Director. Last week, I was happy to see her out there teaching, working, leading and playing with the kids the whole week. And we have found a new music director who is very capable. She has been doing church music and directing choir for the last 25 years. She and her husband and the children have just joined our parish a few months ago. Then we have a wonderful new Director of Stewardship. She used to work in the corporate world and got tired of it. Now she enjoys working for the church part time and raising her two children and her husband as well! We also have the new director and assistant director for the pre-school. And they are planning and reorganize the staff and the pre-school program. So I am happy. I truly believe in the power of prayers. Come to Jesus and he will help. Come to Jesus, and he will take care of us and give us comfort and rest.

The rest that Jesus gives is not the rest of lying around and doing nothing. The rest that Jesus gives is the rest of a renewed mind and heart, and a refreshed spirit. It is the rest of new energy and new strength. It is the rest to give us a sense of new hope, new joy, new love and a sense of discovery the purpose of life. That rest enables us to take his yoke upon ourselves. Note carefully that Jesus is telling us to take up his yoke. His yoke is not laid upon us; it is the yoke that we are willing to place upon ourselves. The purpose of a yoke is to make it easier to pull the load! Once we come to him, we are required to take his yoke to make it easier to carry the Christian load.

Take

Taking the yoke of Christ implies that it will make it easier for us to pull the load of our life toward heaven. Taking his yoke also means to throw off the yoke we carried before, the yoke of sin and Satan, the yoke of the worldly life style, of self-will, self-seeking and self-pleasing. Taking Christ’s yoke upon us also means a change of master.

"Take my yoke upon you, “means: surrender yourself to My Lordship, submit yourself to my rule, let my will be yours and my mission be your mission, my purpose be your purpose. Take the yoke of Christ means put on the Christian marks and uniform. Put away the spirit of the flesh and put on the spirit of God. The world is not going to accept us. The world is not going to agree with us. We are not going to seek approval of the world. Not seeking approval of the world means that we are not going to compromise with the world. We are not ashamed of Jesus and of his teachings, but we are going into the world and proclaim the Good News. And carrying this yoke will lead us to his Father’s home.

Learn

When we come to Jesus, we are required to take his yoke. And only when we take his yoke upon ourselves, we will be able to learn from him. This means that true learning only happens when we have surrendered our wills to His will, and submitted ourselves to His authority. This is far more than an intellectual learning of Christ. It is an experimental, practical and transforming learning. By painstaking effort any person may acquire a theological knowledge of the historical Jesus and the doctrine of Christ. He/she may even obtain a clear concept of His meekness and lowliness. He/she can define His divine identity, but that is totally different from learning from Him, and to live like he has lived. To "learn" from Him means we are completely subjecting ourselves to Him and live in communion with Him. We conform ourselves to his teachings and his way of life.

We are blessed to have Fr. Desy Daniels with us. Fr. Desy comes from India. He never drove a car before. Working in our parish now, he has to learn to drive the car. Before learning how to drive the car, he has to learn about the driving laws, traffic regulations and street signs. It was easy for him to pass the written test. But to pass the driving test is a different matter.  He has to practice and practice well. He failed the first time because he couldn’t do the paralleled parking. The second time he managed to do the paralleled parking, but he did not make a good left turn. The third time he failed because he was just trying to be nice. We all know Fr. Desy is a very nice person. He was driving with the officer in the car, and when he saw a landscaper working with a blower on the side of the street, he stopped the car in the middle of the road to let the man finish his work. When he did that, the officer asked him to go home and practice more. Know the laws and passing the written test is not enough. He has to learn to drive the care well.

In the same way, we can read the bible and memorize it. We can study theology and understand it well. We can pass the exams. But we still not learn from Jesus untill we embrace his teachings and lifestyle. It is important that we learn to live our lives as Jesus has lived. Only when we learn to conform ourselves to the teaching of Jesus and submit ourselves to His Lordship that we can say that we have truly learned from Him.