I want to make an announcement, offer an invitation and then a few reflections for your week, and I hope your life ahead.

The announcement: today is FirstFruits Sunday when we begin giving toward the fulfillment of our three-year commitment to our Faithraising Campaign. Please use the pink envelopes for your Faithraising Campaign giving today and in the future.

If you are giving online and have not filled out a Faithraising commitment card, please do so today so that we can know exactly who and how many folks are giving online. It is easy to set up. If you have any difficulty, please call the parish office.

The announcement: to date, we have $3,528,482 pledged. (Applause) I am grateful for the 522 households that have made a commitment. We have an opportunity for the other 1,800 households to make a pledge and easily push us to and well past our fruit goal of $4,250,000. Fr. Cody and I will continue to invite everyone to participate.

It is FirstFruits Sunday. If you haven’t made a commitment, please take one of these cards and do so right now. I emphasize, Equal Sacrifice, not Equal Gift. Most, if not all, are able to give something financially over and above our regular weekly giving.

If you are absolutely unable over the next three years to pledge financially, I humbly ask that you fill out a card and write “prayer” as your commitment for our Faithraising campaign and then pray for the fulfillment of the project daily. This would be a wonderful gift and a way you can participate. Please fill out a card right now.

Equal sacrifice, not equal gifts. All sacrifice, all giving something together. That is the goal for which we are striving; every one participating.

Now a few reflections.

Like a child, I want to keep it very simple today. Three words only: come, learn, rest.

I do not want to presume, but I suspect that each and every one of us here this morning in some way feels burdened and weary. It may not be huge or life threatening, but burdened none-the-less.

Maybe you are worried about one of your children.

Maybe you are anxious about your job or even finding a job.

Maybe you are weighed down with debt.

Maybe you are burdened with recurring sin in your life that breeds hopelessness and even despair.

Maybe you struggle with addiction – to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, pornography, spending – you name it. You are a slave to it, even if it is merely periodic, from time to time. Whaever it is, you just can’t break its bondage.

To each of us who are burdened, Jesus offers a simple invitation, “Come to me. Learn from me. Rest in me.”

Come to me in Perpetual Adoration, 24/7 in the St. Joseph Chapel.

Come to me at Mass every day, every Sunday. M.A.S.S. Make All Sundays Sacred.

Come to me at home in prayer with your spouse, your children – at table and at bedtime.

Come to me at work just before you walk into a difficult meeting, or when you find yourself in the middle of gossip.

Come to me when you are confronted with sin and temptation and you cry out for help like a child calling out for help from mom or dad. Are we child-like enough, vulnerable enough to go to Jesus?

“Come to me.”

“Learn from me.” Are we open and receptive to allowing Jesus to teach us, to be the truth for us, the way for us to eternal life?

“Learn from me.” Are we open to praying and studying the bible, especially the Gospels, so as to encounter Jesus and learn from him?

“Learn from me.” Are we humble enough to realize that we don’t know it all, that we are not ultimately in charge? Are we humble enough to recognize that others, that being in a small group and that ultimately the Church can teach us more about the ways of a virtuous life?

“Learn from me.” Are we willing to “come to Jesus” and sit in his presence in prayer and let him speak to the depths of our souls and learn from him what truly matters and what really brings life, peace and joy?

“Come to me. Learn from me. Rest in me.”

We are so busy, so worried, so anxious, so stubborn, so having to be right, so overwhelmed, so angry, so depressed, so hurting, so regretful, so upset, so demanding, so tired, so fearful, so resentful, so caught in some manifestation of sin – that we are exhausted and cannot find rest.

We go looking for rest in another drink, a pill, a joint, TV or video game bingeing, sports, hobbies, etc. – in whatever distracts us, yet never finding that peace, that deep rest, that soul soaking quiet that we so long for, that ultimately only Jesus can provide.

Allow Jesus to speak these words to your soul right now. Listen intently to his invitation. Feel his longing for you when he says, “Come to me. Learn from me. Rest in me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Allow me to share with you what happened on Friday night.

It was late, a bit after 9:00 p.m. I was walking from the office, through the parking lot to the rectory. It was a cool, beautiful evening yet I was weighed down with exhaustion after a very long day, filled with concern and a good deal of discouragement.

I said hello to a woman in a car who was waiting for someone coming from Adoration. There was also a young man who got out of his car and said to me, “Father, are you going home?”

“Yes,” I said as I stopped for a second, “it’s been a long day.”

“Would you hear my confession?” A request, an invitation I try never to deny.

“Of course. Can we just sit in your car?” He seemed a bit taken aback and said, “Sure.”

As we prayed, I realized that he was burdened. He longed for rest, for forgiveness, for freedom yet he knew the hold that sin had on his life. I could sense the intense interior struggle that he was having.

I listened and I felt for him. I tried to offer some simple words of encouragement and advice, but most of all I offered something far more important, the words of absolution, of God’s forgiveness and mercy.

Before I got out of the car, I shook his hand, looked at him and said, “Thank you for asking me to hear your confession. Don’t ever hesitate to ask a priest. Nothing gives us more joy than to be an instrument of God’s mercy.” I smiled, opened the door and said good night.

As I walked away, I realized that both of us had experienced Jesus’ words spoken and made real in our lives: “Come to me. Learn from me. Rest in me.”

I had a great night’s sleep.