Is 40:25-31; Ps 103:1-4,8,10; Mt11:28-30
Kindness is so rare in our world. Most people found the movie Pay It Forward a great new way to live; something worth trying. That’s the sad part. What’s new about kindness? The responsorial psalm on this Advent day summons us to bless the LORD because he is abounding in kindness. The LORD is not Santa in the sky, who is kind once a year to those who are nice. The LORD is abounding in kindness, from eternity to eternity. With our whole being we bless his holy name; we forget not all his benefits. Indeed, he pardons all our iniquities; he heals all our ills. From the danger of self-destruction he redeems us completely, and he crowns our lives with kindness and compassion. Such a merciful and gracious LORD loves us unconditionally and without regret. He cannot love us more, and he will not love us less. Perhaps this is what it means to abound in kindness. The LORD removes from us not only the stain of our sins he also removes from our hearts the very desire to sin. Indeed, only the one who made our hearts can perform such an extraction. Actually, he takes the desire for sin and transforms it to a desire for holiness. We have only four enemies: the evil one, sin, vice and concupiscence. Once we have done all we can do to run away from the devil, avoid the near occasions of sin, and begun to develop virtue to out grow vice; still we have to deal with our innate inclination toward evil that survives the Sacrament of Baptism. Saint Augustine called it concupiscence. Even this default system is defeated by the grace of our gracious God and Savior. We rejoice to desire the LORD more than we desire anything or anyone else. Such is the passive night of soul and spirit; such is the abounding kindness of the LORD God. The Advent Prophet, Isaiah, is caught up in the same wonder and awe when he preaches, “To whom can you liken me as an equal?” Saint Matthew answers the question when we hear the Lord Jesus invite all who are weary and find life a burden.
The great prophet Isaiah proclaims the truth that the LORD is God and there is no other. Indeed, all the other so-called gods are things of naught. As Psalm 40 proclaims: “Great are the wonders and designs that you have worked for us; you have no equal!” The Creator of heaven and earth has made all the stars in the sky; everywhere we gaze we behold the works of his hands. The LORD numbers the great army of stars, and he calls each one by its name. How can Jacob feel so overwhelmed? How dare Israel declare that the LORD takes no notice of her international threats? After all these years of covenant relationship is it not obvious to the People that the LORD rescues and saves? Indeed the LORD, the eternal God, is the creator of the ends of the earth. He is not like the other gods; he does not grow weary and his knowledge is beyond all knowledge. The LORD provides strength to all who are fainting; for the weak the LORD makes vigor abound. All who put their hope in the LORD will not grow weary, stagger, and fall. The promise of the Almighty is that he will renew strength, and those who hope in him will soar like eagles. Only those who trust in the LORD will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint. Indeed the LORD has no equal, and his great love cannot be surpassed.
Crowds of less than enthusiastic people surround the Master. In this section of Saint Matthew’s Gospel the Lord Jesus has begun to deal with opposition from Israel. He is confronted with the disciples of John the Baptist; he is strong in reproaching unrepentant towns; he has praise for the childlike and criticism for the learned. Now he speaks to the crowds who are weary with burdens from the official religious leaders. These powerful men are weary of the preaching of the Lord Jesus because he is freely talking about how available and tender the Father’s love is for all his children. The Lord Jesus does not demand and exact the burden of the law from the crowds. He offers them rest. He invites them to learn from him about intimacy with the Father and to take up the yoke of obedience from one who delights in the law of the Lord in the depths of his heart. The Lord Jesus has a meek and humble heart to which he invites all who labor to prove themselves righteous and are weary because they are burdened with impossible demands. Indeed, the Lord Jesus still invites us to rest secure in his love and to take up the yoke of his cross, which is easy and light. Indeed, the yoke of the cross can only be carried in love. It is love that makes suffering bearable, even light and easy. Indeed, here is the Lord who abounds in kindness. He who comes this Advent is not weary of the weary. He still beckons us with the greatest tenderness, with divine compassion.