Fifth Sunday of Lent

This Sunday the Gospel reading is taken from the eighth chapter of St John’s Gospel: the salvation of the adulterous woman. The painting of Matthew 11,28-30 might be a suitable replacement.


11:28   'Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.

11:29   Shoulder my yoke and learn from me,

for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

11:30  Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.'      

Context & Explanation

These verses are part of a longer saying of Jesus. He started with a prayer of thanksgiving: ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children.’ Some moments later he speaks to the people around him: ‘Come to me...’ This periscope is framed by the words ‘At that very moment...’ (11,25 and 12,01).

What things did the Father hide for the learned and clever? When we read back, we hear how Jesus is complaining of the attitude of the mates of his time. John the Baptist came neither eating or drinking: and they said: “He is possessed.” Jesus came; he ate and drunk and they said: “Look, a glutton and a drink.” Then Jesus is lamenting over the towns where he did miracles. They saw the miracles, but didn’t change their mind, neither did they recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. 

Who did? The ‘little children.’ Those who were minors. Those who had only hope in their lives and nothing else to lean on. Those who ‘laboured and were overburdened’. Those who suffered under the yoke of the 613 articles of the Law: there was always something they did wrong. It was never good. For those Jesus announces his message that he is not a controller of commandments, but that he is gentle, humble, understanding and forgiving. That is his ‘yoke’.

Picture Meditation

Jesus, clothed in the red colour of the heart and of love, is gazing at the people who come to him. With what expression?

I take the time to imagine that Jesus at this very moment looks with this expression to me.

He is stretching his arms around all those who are looking for comfort. He wriggles to protect all of them with his enormous hands: ‘Safe in Jesus’ arms.’

Am I longing for protection, understanding, love in some way or another?

Can I believe that Jesus (or God, his Father) even wriggles to make me feel his presence?

I look at the figures who come to Jesus. One after another. I imagine which could be the reason that they look for safety in Jesus’ arms. Is there someone with whom I can identify?

I finish by saying a colloquy with one of the pictured persons; with Jesus...

- Meditation by Fr Dries van den Akker S.J