Thursday, July 14, 2011

“If there were no tribulation, there would be no rest”

“Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us. What we ourselves cannot bear, let us bear with the help of Christ. For he is all-powerful.” – St Boniface

Gospel text (Mt 11,28-30): Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

What are we lacking to feel actually well?

Today, in the light of the Gospel, we may review our conception of God. How do I live and feel God in my heart? What feelings uncover his presence in our lives? Jesus offers us his understanding when we feel weary and want to rest: «Come to me, all you who work hard and who carry heavy burdens and I will refresh you» (Mt 11:28).

Realistically, we cannot be unburdened in this life on earth. We can only be re-burdened with Jesus' burden, the cross. Pretending that we can unburden ourselves makes life more burdensome. We make life harder by trying to make it easier. Paradoxically, the heaviest burden, that is, the cross, is the easiest to carry because Jesus carried it. It is in striving to carry the cross that we enter into His rest (see Heb 4:11). Take up your cross daily (Lk 9:23) and get the best rest you'll get on this earth.

Jesus' proposal —«Take my yoke upon you and learn from me...» (Mt 11:29)— implies following his benevolent style of life (to wish good to everybody) and his heart’s humility (virtue referring to keep our feet on the ground for only the divine grace can make us ascend). To be a disciple demands our accepting Jesus' yoke, while remembering his yoke is «good» and his burden is «light». I do not know, however, whether we are convinced this is really so. To live as a Christian in our present context is not such an easy thing, for we have to opt for values that go upstream. Not to get carried away by money, prestige or power demands a great effort. If we want to achieve it by ourselves, it may become an impossible task. But with Jesus everything is possible and good.

What is needed to accomplish this task is a kind of “supernatural strength” (i.e. grace). Look at the example of Mary traveling to Bethlehem while about to have a baby. Look at the wise men following the star and undergoing for many months the rigors of travel in ancient times. We receive the "supernatural strength" we need by hoping in the Lord (see 1 Mc 2:61). Paradoxically, we receive Jesus' strength by taking on our shoulders the yoke of the cross (see Mt 11:29). When we become like Simon of Cyrene and take up the cross, we become like Samson in that we receive supernatural strength from the Holy Spirit. We "have strength for everything through Him Who empowers" us (Phil 4:13).

"Look to the Lord in His strength" (Ps 105:4). Ask the Lord for supernatural strength. "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5). Be supernaturally strong.

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