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Come to Me
Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin
Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are 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 light.”
Opening Prayer: “For your way and your judgments, O Lord, we look to you; your name and your title are the desire of our souls. My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you; When your judgment dawns upon the earth, the world’s inhabitants learn justice. O Lord, you mete out peace to us, for it is you who have accomplished all we have done” (from today’s first reading from Isaiah).
- Labors and Burdens: It is understood in this context that Jesus is speaking to those who labor and are burdened by the law as expounded by the scribes and Pharisees. Further in the Gospel of Matthew we find Jesus rebuking the Pharisees, for “They tie up heavy burdens [hard to carry] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23:4). What we can learn from this exchange is that the burden of faith we bear, often a weight we carry not only for ourselves but also for loved ones who are outside the faith, is lifted when we ask Our Lord to enter into our burdens. Jesus, through his cross, lifts our burdens onto his own shoulders and carries them with us.
- Rest: The rest Jesus invites us into is the Father’s will. Sown into our human nature through original sin is the lie that the Father’s will is a burden, a set of rules limiting our freedom. Jesus leads us on the path to truth, and we find our way by being meek and humble of heart. To be meek like Jesus means to willingly place our power at the service of God, much like a bridled horse who allows itself to be tamed to serve his master. Humble of heart means to freely submit our will to God. To be meek and humble of heart is difficult on our own due to our fallen nature; our concupiscence. Through Jesus, “It (concupiscence) cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ” (CCC 1264).
- Jesus’ Yoke: Kateri Tekakwitha, the saint whose feast day we celebrate today, took the yoke of Jesus upon herself when she, at eleven years old, accepted the gift of the Catholic faith through Jesuit missionaries who visited her Mohawk tribe in 1667. She practiced her religion unflinchingly in the face of almost unbearable opposition. She lived a life of remarkable virtue despite the many in her tribe who engaged in carnage, debauchery, and idolatrous frenzy. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at 4 and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus crucified. Upon her death, devotion to her began immediately to be manifested by her people and many were converted to Catholicism. Kateri’s steadfast devotion to Jesus teaches us how to resist concupiscence by living a life of virtue. We lean upon the grace of Jesus Christ, so that he lifts the burdens we carry for ourselves and for our people.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, to rest in you is to do the Father’s will and I confess, I often find it a burden difficult to carry, especially when I feel I am also carrying it for others. I want to learn from you that faith is not a burden; it is a gift to appreciate and treasure. Fill me with your grace, Jesus.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will begin a practice of thanking you first thing every morning and last thing every night.
For Further Reflection: Explore the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha National Shrine and Historic Site.
Nan Balfour is an events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic Evangelization Ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life. She is also a mother, writer, and speaker on Catholic topics.