I wanted to think about the fact that human’s have a tendency to make comparisons. To make judgements about one another and in doing so about ourselves. There are of course particular times in life when we are inclined to draw comparisons about our lives and achievements.
Parents of very young children spend all their time comparing them to other children to see if they are developing OK .. are they doing the same things .. eating as much … saying as many words. It doesn’t really stop … comparing our children and their achievements to their peers is a human condition. Or as teenagers we spend so much of our time wondering how we compare with others. How we look. How others think we look. Whether our clothes or shoes or make up are the right clothes shoes and make up compared to others. But it never really stops. Keeping up with the Jones’s is our downfall isn’t it. Being intensely aware of how what we have compares with our neighbour, our work colleagues, our siblings.
What should we compare ourselves to then? To a summers day? To our neighbour or our peer group? Jesus message to us in the Gospel is that we should give up making these comparisons altogether. You are like children moaning to one another when you make this mistake. You become critical of one another .. and even of yourselves. Why don’t you dance to the same tune as me you begin to ask. Why don’t you mourn when you should or celebrate when you should. Why are you different to me is the ultimate question. For all comparison seeks to criticise difference.
What a burden we place ourselves under. What a yoke we take on our necks when we seek to be better or richer or happier than everyone else. We can never win that race.
Indeed we set ourselves targets which we can never meet. As St Paul puts it .. we do not have the strength of will to achieve what we want in our own strength .. what I want to do I do not do and what I don’t want to do … that I do!! When we find ourselves coming up short we set goals and targets to try and compare better .. but we cannot achieve this because it is never enough.
Who will rescue me, we cry, when we lay our heads in our pillows at night. Who will save me from all this is our prayer behind the door of our room. And Paul says … thanks be to God it is Jesus Christ our Lord.
How does Jesus save us from this treadmill of keeping up with the Jones’s: from the rat race as we call it of life. He saves us by saying .. come unto me if you are weary of all this .. weary of competition and comparison .. weary of trying to keep up .. come unto me, take my yoke, and i will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.
It is our decision. Will we exchange the yoke of this world .. the yoke which tethers us to our neighbour in competition and peer pressure. Will we exchange the yoke for that of Jesus which says you are loved by God .. a child of God .. cherished for who you are and not what you can achieve. A yoke which frees you to be yourself and no-one else .. with all your failure and weakness and unique vulnerability .. and as yourself declares that you are loved and cherished.
To what shall I compare you .. Jesus answers nothing at all .. you are uniquely and wonderfully made without comparison or equal.