“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.”
Anyone who has studied as a seminarian can tell you that there is a lot that has to be done in his daily schedule- myself included. Often our schedule starts before six in the morning, and can often end almost sixteen hours later. The beginning of the day is merely a faint memory by the end of the day, simply because there are so many different directions to travel and things to accomplish every day. By the time Night Prayer ceases its procession forth from our mouths, each one of us is very exhausted. Even in our exhaustion, though, there is still more meaning to Matthew 11:28 than simple earthy rest.
In fact, the rest that we are invited to in this Gospel passage has a couple additional potential types besides this. It invites us, first of all, to the security of reliance upon Christ, and this is a rest in a certain respect. We cannot rule ourselves, no matter our effort, or how much power, strength, or intelligence we have. We cannot bring ourselves to rest by our own rule. What our own rulership can look like in our daily lives is getting to the highest positions that we can, gaining the most money we can, or simply making ourselves as important or as busy as possible. These things seldom bring us to lasting rest and peace- and to the contrary can often bring us to unrest and dissatisfaction. These things cannot innately satisfy- because we logically cannot corner any of these things- and this means that we will likely be led to frustration. What Christ invites us to here, then, is the ability to simply place Him as our ruler. This means that He is the one to take care of our needs- if we follow His leadership. This enables us to gain rest from the security that only Christ, as our ruler, can provide.
The last rest that we are ultimately led to, as indicated by this passage, is Eternal Life. This is by extension of the rest that we are given in our earthly life. This can only be made possible if we have relinquished rulership to Christ, and not to ourselves. We are led to our final goal and final rest- because we are able to find what our hearts truly desire. Whether we are at the seminary, at work, at home, at Church, or even sleeping- we are ultimately seeking that rest- the rest that only God can provide. That is a rest that is physical, secure, and eternal. It is one and the same with the rest St. Augustine identifies in the first book of The Confessions: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Even though our work as seminarians keeps us busy, we certainly strive to live in this rest as much as possible, even though we work long hours and have many things to do. We take upon ourselves the yoke of study for now, but ultimately, it is done, as God wills, through a man’s taking of Christ’s yoke upon him. This is even physically symbolized at the celebration of each and every Mass through the priest vesting in the chasuble- the outer vestment that is in the shape of a yoke. In his celebration of the Mass, he takes upon himself the very same yoke of Christ and His work. It is only in this same work that seminarians too, busy as we are, will find rest- and will be able to help countless others find that very same rest- now, and in eternity.