My life in 10 verses: Matthew Something

So on Day 2 of the 10 day scripture verse challenge, I move into my mid-teens...

One of my classmates died unexpectedly at Christmas 1978. We had just sat our O Level mock exams, so our timetable had become fluid. I recall that Geraldine and I hung around chatting after an exam, then tagged along to a school event which promised refreshments at the end. During an otherwise serious address we both found the same thing funny. My final memory of Geraldine is of her impish, highly expressive face sending me into barely suppressed giggles. Within a week she was in hospital, where she died on Christmas Day.

It was the holidays, these were pre-internet days and our school's catchment area extended beyond our borough, but somehow the news of her death travelled, through phone calls and visits, and our entire class plus a lot of our teachers and other pupils were at her funeral. Back at school, in those pre-bereavement counselling times, we may have been offered the chance to talk to a teacher - I can't remember. I think we were expected to grieve quietly, supported by our families. And then we classmates were asked to suggest hymns and readings for a special memorial Mass.

I don't know where, or how, but I had recently encountered a scripture passage I thought would be just right, though I couldn't recall it exactly. It's Matthew Something, I offered, Come to me and I'll give you rest, something like that. My suggestion was duly noted, but not taken up: no, I can't remember what Gospel we did have, just that it wasn't the one I'd thought would be ideal for a memorial Mass. Years later I did in fact use it for a funeral - my father's. He was a gentle and humble man, and had certainly laboured throughout his life, restlessly grieving for my mother in his final months, so it seemed very appropriate.

By then I knew Matthew Something extremely well: it's one of the three Gospels used for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, and part of it is also quoted at the end of Paragraph 8 of our Constitutions, which I fondly regard as "my" paragraph. And maybe that's the reason why this passage appealed to my teenage self: the Society's charism, already deep within my being; as yet unknown and unacknowledged, but as much a part of my DNA as all the molecules and chromosomes which make me uniquely me. Somehow, the gentleness of the Heart of Jesus not only spoke to my heart but remained there, gently calling.

So for day 2 I share, not Matthew Something but Matthew 11: 28-30:

Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened
and I will give you rest.
Shoulder my yoke and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.


  1. The Book of Common Prayer introduces the verses like this: 'Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him. 'Come unto me all that travail and are heavy-laden, and I will refresh you...' I love the idea of comfortable words.


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