Today’s Mass readings, Isaiah 40. 25–31 and Matthew 11. 28–30, linked together by Psalm 102. 1-4, 8, 10, speak to all of us at times. We have all experienced moments — perhaps even weeks, months or years — when everything goes flat, hope shrivels and life becomes a struggle we seem destined to lose. It is at such times that difficulties and disappointments multiply. We may cry out, ‘Why me?’ or shake our fist at the skies and declare, ‘There is no God!’ but answer comes there none. God’s silence is as disconcerting as his word. We are alone in a hostile universe. What is the point of going on? We also know that it doesn’t take much to restore our confidence and good spirits: a smile, an encouraging word, a good meal or some small piece of unexpected good fortune can transform everything and we can laugh at our previous gloom. We are indeed fickle creatures.
But I think there is another side to the weariness the scriptures speak of that we need to consider more deeply. There can be a kind of disgust with God and the things of God that is much more serious than our transitory ups and downs. We can try to escape God in a thousand different ways, which can exhaust us and leave us spiritually and morally shipwrecked. That may not mean that we abandon our Christian principles altogether. On the contrary, we construct our own version of Christianity, with all the bits we like left in, and all the bits we don’t left out. We cocoon ourselves in a religion of our own devising which means we never have to confront the reality of God and his demands. But we need to remember that the God who invites us to come to him for rest is also the God who asks us to shoulder his yoke. Perhaps this Advent we should spend a few minutes thinking about what it means to labour for God, as well as taking our ease in him.