Saint Damasus I, Pope (Optional Memorial)

 

You will find rest.

 

Scripture tells us that rest was part of God’s plan from the beginning:   “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:3).    The day of rest, or Sabbath, was meant as a time to honor our unique relationship with God.   Of all the animals on the earth, men and women are the only ones who take this day off.    To a cow or a cat, one day is just like the next.   But we humans are made for work and rest.   We are made to enjoy friendship with God just as much as we are made to tend to the earth.

Throughout Israel’s history, people understood the Sabbath primarily as a gracious gift.   Over time, however, more and more rules concerning proper conduct on the Sabbath were added, to the point at which some came to see this special day as a burden—or as an occasion to judge everyone else.   Did my neighbor say no to the right activities?   Questions like that one became more important than whether our neighbor, or we ourselves, for that matter, had said yes to God.

Then came Jesus and his promise:   “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).   He didn’t say, “I will give you rest on the Sabbath.”   Just “I will give you rest”—the rest that comes through faith in him, a rest that we can experience each and every day.

When worry and anxiety get the better of you, he can give you rest through his presence.

When you become painfully aware of your shortcomings, he can give you rest through his mercy.

When you feel overburdened, he can give you rest as he walks with you and lightens your load.

The next time you find yourself worrying about life, take a moment to turn and say yes to Jesus and his promise of rest.   You won’t always feel different.   Worry may even creep back in.   But as you persist in faith, you will gradually sense his presence and his peace.   Jesus has promised you rest, and he is always faithful to his promises.

“Lord, you alone can renew my spirit.   Help me to say yes to the rest you came to give.”

Isaiah 40:25-31
Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10

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