The very short gospel passage (Mt 11:28-30) we are presented this day has Jesus telling those of His hearers who have heavy burdens to find rest in Him who will lighten their loads.
What a wonderful thought. We know we can offer up our trials and tribulations, anxieties and cares, pain and suffering to a God who understands intimately what we are experiencing. But the fact of the matter is that sometimes it is difficult for us to appreciate this when events in life bring us low. The Lord can and does at times intervene in a miraculous way to heal or resolve situations. But often He calls on us to be Christ and see Christ in others. With that in mind, we should be constantly on the lookout for ways to lift at least a bit of the weight of troubles off of others. The effort and outreach itself often does more in its show for care and concern than does any physical act. But often both are necessary. Some ideas to consider often, but now particularly as we draw near to Christmas (please suggest others!):
- Relieve the burden of loneliness of an elderly neighbor by surprising her with a visit; take real interest in her and then see if she needs anything else (explicitly or just by observing)
- Give extra time, treasure, talent or all of the above to your parish, a local charity, a hospital or nursing home, etc.; specifically ask your pastor if there is anything you can do for him to help him out personally or in the parish
- Recall a family who has recently lost a loved one and share a fond memory of the departed, then offer to assist them in whatever way you can
- Call (or email or FB and then ask for his number) an old friend, acquaintance, or colleague out of the blue and tell him that you miss him and were thinking of him by recalling some good quality of his; if possible, arrange to meet for lunch to catch up; even if you do not know of a specific matter that is troubling him, you can bet there is something there, but even if not or it is not shared, the bit of break you provide from the daily grind will bring a smile and appreciation
I hope this has provided some food for thought. With all of these outreaches, do not forget to pray for the person or cause as well. And let them know you are doing so. Deep and abiding healing only comes when the soul is made right with God. A little proverb widely attributed to the Chinese says: “When you have only two dollars left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a rose with the other.” We are soul and body and both need to be fed. Do not neglect either in yourself or others.