Learning to “L”ove
28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11: 28-30)
This is such a contradiction coming from someone who died suffering on the cross for us. And indeed, as she goes on there are many who follow Christ who suffer tremendously
“But I get letters. I hear from people who follow Christ in every way they can possibly beat out of their wills, and they get nothing but pain and suffering in return — not only suffering for themselves, but sorrow and terrible burdens for everyone they love. They’re not doing anything wrong. They believe that God is in control. These are people who pray, embrace sacrifice, obey, submit, and unite themselves with the suffering of Christ as much as they possibly can. And yet their suffering is unmitigated. What do I tell them? It’s okay — your yoke is easy and your burden is light? It’s okay. Jesus said it was okay.”
At the end she asked what a light and easy yoke means to others.
This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past while, and something I’ve thought of often when I myself run into these situations. I know people, good, wonderful, faithful people who have tremendous burdens in their lives. People just like Simcha mentioned above.
I think though the answer comes down to love.
Not simplistic, fuzzy feeling, nostalgic “love”. But real, true, authentic, guttural, painful, this is a choice not a feeling, big “L” Love.
When we take on someone else’s burden, someone else’s yoke, it’s easier because it’s not our own. When a friend has lost a loved one, and you step in to help them through funeral arrangements, even though you don’t really have the time. When you’re sick, but your children are too, and you pull every ounce of energy out of you so that you can take care of them. When you get up in the middle of the night for the sixth time to nurse your newborn child even though you’re so exhausted you can hardly hold on to them. Every nurse in this world who wipes a fevered brow, who holds a hand, who counsels a family during their time of suffering and pain, while putting aside all the things and the people they’re leaving behind at home. These things are done hardly with even a second thought. Without feeling like the load is too much. I remember my mom often saying to me whenever I was sick or struggling with something in my life that she’d gladly and willingly take it from me if she could. I always thought she was crazy, but now, as a mom, I understand.
I think that’s what Christ is talking about but on a much greater scale. Christ is the head, and we are the body. We suffer partly because of sin, and definitely having Christ in our lives, taking Him into our hearts, is a far easier load than the burden of that emptiness without Him. But after that, we become His body. And His body suffered. It was whipped and beaten and pierced and bled and bled until there was nothing left to bleed anymore. This suffering is different. It is not our own. It is the suffering of all those other members of the body who don’t know yet how to unite it with His.
I have been reading the life of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich recently, and have been blown away by her approach to suffering. God permitted her to experience extremely deep and painful physical and emotional suffering in order to save souls. Her love for Christ was so strong that multiple times when she seemed near death and hardly able to hold on she begged Our Lord to be allowed to live longer that she might suffer more for Him. That she might be able to help redeem just a few more souls.
When our yoke feels burdensome I think it’s because of the chains of sin, the specks of selfishness in our lives, our inability to discern the fact that we have been given a great gift in being able to suffer. It is because we love, but we fail to Love.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” – Galatians 2:19-20