My Burden Is LightFr. Barnabas Powell
“Therefore, don’t despair when you fall, but get up eagerly and do a metanoia saying, “Forgive me, my dear Christ. I am human and weak.” The Lord has not abandoned you. But since you still have a great deal of worldly pride, a great deal of vainglory, our Christ lets you make mistakes and fall, so that you perceive and come to know your weakness every day, so that you become patient with others who make mistakes, and so that you do not judge the brethren when they make mistakes, but rather put up with them.” + Elder Joseph the Heychest
I can’t read that without remembering that someone else once said “You cannot live as a Christian; you can only die as a Christian.” And then I read that the Lord insists that His yoke is easy and His burden is light! Really? It seems this Christian way of life is heavy, filled with confrontation with my own weaknesses, challenges to finally be honest with myself, a standard of Christlikeness that hangs over me like a taunting impossibility! How can this burden be “light?”
Because it certainly is easier and lighter than the burden of self-deceit and sin. Think about it. Struggling with the dead end, no hope, scenarios of our perpetual problems, hang up, and relationship-destroying fears is a great deal heavier on our lives than the constant struggle to be free from these poverties, don’t you think? At least with the Way of Christ we are offered healing from these self-imposed prisons.
Look at what the Lord declares in today’s Gospel Lesson: The Lord said to his disciples, “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:27-30
The Lord extends an invitation to you, but only if you’ve come to the honest realization that you are struggling and needing rest. He says today “Come to Me.” And He promises that He will give you rest. He invites you to “take” and “learn,” both of which first require you to finally admit, or admit once again, that you need to “take” and “learn.” If you do, you will find rest for your soul. Because the Lord’s “yoke” (think of a horse or an ox pulling a plow in a field; the “yoke” is the collar around his neck that attaches to the straps that pull the plow behind him) is lighter that the “do-it-myself” mentality that hasn’t really gotten us very far, now has it? No, this invitation by Christ extended to those who follow Him is an honest assessment of what life is like without Him and life can be like with Him. But, as usual, the Lord uses no coercion, but simply invites. And that is because the Lord knows His invitation will be heard by those who are tired of bearing their burden alone. It’s only those who have come to this place in their lives who can really hear this invitation.
Today, are there places in your life where you are tired of trying to “go it alone?” Do you catch yourself wishing for a break and just wanting some peace? Perhaps it’s time to drop a heavier burden for a lighter one. Perhaps it’s time to embrace a fuller view of the Christian life and embrace a way of living that allows you access to the sacramental life of the Church that takes this heavier burden from you and gives you the grace to embrace the lighter burden of Christ. It’s time, especially in this hectic time of year, when we are invited once again to “take” and “learn;” to shoulder a lighter “yoke” and an easier “burden.”
P.S. Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Nicholas. Let’s build into the lives of our children the wondrous story of this hero of the faith and help our children “Christianize” this time of year by offering them the “lighter burden” and beauty of our timeless faith. And don’t forget to “like” and “subscribe” to our Faith Encouraged website at www.faithencouraged.org. You can alos “like” the Faith Encouraged LIVE Facebook page and follow Fr. Barnabas on Twitter by looking up Fr. Barnabas Powell. Stay connected because there are some exciting things coming in 2015 for the ministry and I want you to be the first to know about it!