When we have a wedding in church the whole neighbourhood seems interested. As the couple come out, people in the 263 bus are always interested. Passers-by on the pavement often pause for a look. Drivers of cars going past sometimes toot their horns in approval and encouragement. Everybody looks happy. At the most obvious level, we are happy for the couple, for the love they bring to each other and for the life they are about to launch together. But actually, I think that there is more going on than that.
Every wedding is an act of trust. The couple are declaring to the world that love gives them the confidence to move into the future. And each of us feels touched by that faith, each of us, in some way feels the world is a better place. You see, we are surrounded by so many negative things. The economy is deteriorating. Schools are dumbing down. Health care is a problem. Crime is terrible. The doom-mongers and nay-sayers are many and they might even be right. So when a couple commit themselves to each other in marriage, it defies the gloom that is so pervasive. They trust each other. They trust God. They trust that the unknown future is still one into which they can tread hopefully. They believe that they can be a blessing to each other. They trust, and because they trust, new possibilities, new life, new hope can come.
One of the themes of today’s gospel (Matt. 11.25-30) is trust. The preceding chapter shows Jesus a little disheartened. He finds that people are listening to him but finding all kinds of reasons not to accept the message. They cannot take the leap of faith, and therefore they cannot move into the new life that God is offering them. You and I are called to trust in God who comes to us in Christ. We don’t have to have everything worked out. It is not necessary to be clever. Rather, we begin by trusting God. If we begin with our heart – which is where we trust – we will find that our head will follow. If we build up a relationship with Christ, we will find that bit by bit, as the years go by, we understand more. And what we do not understand we will be prepared to leave in Christ’s hands.
That is why sure, in the same passage today, Jesus tells us that we can come to him and rest (Matt. 11.28). To be with Jesus is often to find that famous peace that passes all understanding (see Philippians 4.7). To trust is to take our steps into God, and to find there a peace which endures even during the storms of life. The past, the present and the future are all in God’s hands, and we can trust even when we do not understand. Jesus recognises the reality of life: people work hard, they carry many burdens, they get tired and worn down. They need rest, and if we trust in God then we can find the inner space to lay down our burdens at the feet of Jesus. When we lift them up again they will feel lighter. When we come to Jesus and rest a while, we discover for ourselves the amazing truth that St Paul tells us in our second reading today, namely that the Spirit of God has made his home in us (Rom. 8.9). We think of God with awe, and yet this same God reaches out to us and is present there in our hearts. Jesus gives us peace, the Spirit of God gives us encouragement. We can trust, we can rest because we can trust, and finally we can press onward once again, renewed by God.