Saturday, July 08, 2017

Thoughts on the Gospel Reading for Sunday 7/9/2017

The Sunday Gospel reading is one that is probably familiar to many people, at least the latter half of it:

MATT 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed: 
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father. 
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."

"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."

Those coming from the Anglican patrimony are certainly familiar with those words: Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden. That is used in various places in the Book of Common Prayer, both as an optional benediction in the Daily Office, at the passing of the peace, and in the Funeral rite. I always read or hear that passage and think back to my Anglican priest days. I have not done any liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer for over four years, but I still know all the words, at least the King James version of it, by heart.

I have found in comes up occasionally in the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours periodically, but not with any regular formula or reason. They certainly never use the term travail. I think that is not a word that is used in normal English parlance much, though you will occasionally hear of it. A Travail is basically a work of a painful or laborious nature. It is a bit more than just "labor" as is the more common translation is newer versions of the Bible.

The following little blurb from Merriam Webster is particularly interesting:

Etymologists are pretty certain that travail comes from trepalium, the Late Latin name of an instrument of torture. We don't know exactly what a trepalium looked like, but the word's history gives us an idea. Trepalium is derived from the Latin tripalis, which means "having three stakes" (from tri-, meaning "three," and palus, meaning "stake"). From trepalium sprang the Anglo-French verb travailler, which originally meant "to torment" but eventually acquired the milder senses "to trouble" and "to journey." The Anglo-French noun travail was borrowed into English in the 13th century, followed about a century later by travel, another descendant of travailler.

That certainly puts "those who labor" in a different light. I don't think the Greek word is quite that harsh, but I think it is likely closer to those being tortured that those just out toiling and laboring in a field or what have you. Something to think about in light of what happens to so many people in parts of the world that are not comfy and cushy and air conditioned like many of us here in the West.

I do some free lance work for an orphanage in Uganda. Some of those kids have had it rough. Some have been abandoned because they were born with HIV. Some were just abandoned because the parents just could not afford to feed them or had themselves died young. Those who travail and are heavy laden...that's who I think about.

Whom do you think about? Maybe you are yourself travailing.

Whatever the problem, Jesus is answer.

Simple message perhaps for this coming Sunday, but it's a big one. We sometimes forget how important people who minister in the name of Jesus truly are to those people who travail and are heavy burdened for they reveal the Father.

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