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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, July 3, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Matthew 11:16–19, 25–30

“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (NRSV)

On my best days, verse 28 reminds me that all of us carry burdens. Perhaps one effect of these months of pandemic life is that we are more attuned to the burdens of others or that we are too frightened and weary to spend much energy hiding our own. But, of course, all around me people are facing struggles that I may or (more likely) may not know anything about: under- or unemployment; illness; domestic violence; substandard medical care, education, housing; worry about loved ones. The list is endless.

Too often, though, I am like those condemning John and Jesus in verses 18 and 19. I see other people and make judgments about their characters without a shred of knowledge about their circumstances and obstacles. Too often I forget that my interpretations of others’ behavior are shaped by my imperfect character and idiosyncratic circumstances.

Jesus calls out the “wise and intelligent.” He was talking to the religious professionals of his time, the Pharisees and Sadducees, but his warning extends to all of us who feel pretty confident in our impressions and opinions. He reminds me to be more like an infant: curious about the people around me and forthright about the help I need. Often. Young children are so much more adept at gathering and incorporating new experiences and adapting their worldviews in light of it. When I stop thinking so much about my own burdens, I can be like that too.

Jesus, you who are gentle and perceptive, thank you for seeing and taking on the burdens of all who call on your name. Help me to distrust my own wisdom and strive to see my sisters and brothers as you do. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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