Our Lady of Mount Carmel (opt. Memorial)
The way of the righteous is level; O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous. In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and your renown are the soul's desire. My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us. O Lord, in distress they sought you, they poured out a prayer when your chastening was on them. Like a woman with child, who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near her time, so were we because of you, O Lord; we were with child, we writhed, but we gave birth only to wind. We have won no victories on earth, and no one is born to inhabit the world.
Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a radiant dew, and the earth will give birth to those long dead.
You, O Lord, will abide forever,
and your name through all generations.
You will arise and have mercy on Zion,
for it is time to pity her.
For her stones are dear to your servants,
and her dust moves them to pity. (R./)
The nations shall revere your name, O Lord,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the Lord has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
Then he will attend to the prayer of the helpless,
and will not despise their prayer. (R./)
Let this be written for the generation to come,
that future creatures will praise the Lord:
The Lord looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die. (R./)
Jesus said, "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."
Isaiah's prayer is to a God in whom he trusts, despite all the troubles he has seen in his lifetime. As in Ireland in recent years, Isaiah has seen a great decline of faith among his own people. So he prays, "My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you." He has learned a spirituality of waiting for God, trusting in Providence. He trusts that God will "makes smooth the path of the righteous" and can be relied upon, no matter what. Therefore he hopes that the darkness is almost over and his nation is like a pregnant woman soon to bear a child. We learn to appreciate God's presence with us best in our time of need.
Jesus reveals this same aspect of God in one of those classic texts which ought to be memorized by all of us. It is, so to speak, the core of his theology. By his intimate relationship with us, God makes our yoke easy and our burden light. He is conscious that life can be weary and burdensome, yet does not make any false, easy promises. The yoke will remain, as will the burden, but with his help they become easy and light. The difference is made by the presence of Jesus who is "gentle and humble of heart." The God who is with us always, promising ultimate peace at the end, is a gentle and loving Lord.
Jesus blamed the religion of his day for burdening people, imposing on them unnecessary demands, and making the Law harder to observe than it should be. He reaches out to people who feel burdened and excluded by all sorts of harsh teaching, and he promises them peace of mind.
Instead of burdening their consciences, he calls them to close union with himself, 'Come to me... learn from me', he says. Rather than giving them more laws, he offers a life-giving relationship. The core of Christian faith is not a detailed, demanding moral code but the person of Jesus Christ who is our Emmanuel, God-with-us.
We are called to come to him, as he has come to us, to relate to him in love, as he has given himself for us in love. In coming to him we discover that he is no impersonal boss or taskmaster, but one who is gentle and humble in heart. The living out of our relationship with him will be demanding; walking in his way often requires saying 'no' to other, seemingly more attractive, ways. However, his demands are the demands of love; the path he puts before us is life-giving rather than oppressive and overburdening. His loving relationship with us and ours with him empowers us to take that path, to walk in his way.