Above the altar hangs the risen Christ: not crucified, but suspended with the instrument of death behind him. His hands and feet are pierced but no nails hold him down. His arms are raised, stretched out to us who kneel below. His eyes are full of love. Meanwhile, I can’t stop looking up. It’s as if I hear him calling: “Come to me! Return to me!”
Walking into church, I felt as though I was carrying a cross — or maybe many crosses, all the burdens of this week — but hearing that call, I find myself carrying them forward. I lay them down (in my mind) at his feet and see, suddenly, that they no longer have any weight. He took my burdens to the grave and now his risen life is mine. “Come to me!” I hear again.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
There are so many reasons we might want to answer that call to come to him:
When we are hungry …
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger.” (John 6:35)
When we thirst …
Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37)
When we are lost …
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
Or have sinned . . .
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
Or when we feel worthless …
I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide. (John 15:16)
That empty cross behind the Lord is a graphic reminder that nothing can separate us from his love, however bad or powerful that thing might seem. Jesus calls us out of our fears and pain and obsessions, out of our busy-ness and cares. He draws close to us and calls us to seek and know and love him. To carry our crosses to him and unite them with his, knowing that from that Cross came Resurrection. And his life is ours.
This Sunday at mass, you will climb the mount of Transfiguration with the Lord and with Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1-9).
You will hear a voice from the cloud, saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Can you take a moment to do that – to listen to him? How is he calling you to come?
© 2020 Sarah Christmyer