The Burden of Freedom (Fourteenth Ordinary)

Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly”. (Matthew 11: 28 – 30)

In the rectory parlour, with his head buried in his hands, he poured out his story in Spanish that needed to be translated for me to understand. His name was Jesus. No little irony. He had been working in the university kitchen for more than 10 years making enough money to live on while also caring for his disabled brother. The food provider hired by the school was technically his employer. New cost-cutting procedures including fewer hours weekly but longer hours daily, no grievance system, no sick days, and other threats that caused the workers to band together and try to form a union. They were met with intimidation and in some cases firing.

Jesus was angry and frightened. He ended the story looking up at me saying very softly what was translated, “I guess God made some of us to suffer”. I was stunned. I asked the translator to tell him, “That’s not my God”. It took months with little support from the university’s administration. But the employees ultimately won the right to vote and were able to form a union. We celebrated with a prayer service in church. Among the speakers was Jesus, head now held high. With a confident voice he spoke loudly to me, “God is good. God has used you to take away our burden. Gloria a Dios”. Conditions improved dramatically for all the employees; the yoke of injustice lifted. Our freedom is used to help others share what God intends for all of us.

All posts