I am meek and humble of heart…My yoke is easy, my burden light
What if you were in an airplane that lost power and was going down? And then someone told you. “here take hold of this heavy package and jump out the door!” You might think they were trying to get rid of extra weight, including you. But if it turned out that inside the pack was a parachute, suddenly what looked like an added heavy burden that you thought would cause you to fall even faster would be the very thing that could help you to float on air safely to the ground.
For non-believers, the Catholic faith can look like a heavy burden. They see it as a bunch of rules that load you down and take all the fun out of living. What is hidden from them inside is the unspeakable gift of having the means of salvation that comes from Christ.
For someone who has never felt the joy and relief of being forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession, it might look from the outside like an embarrassing ordeal.
For someone who doesn’t have the gift of knowing the awesome presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, they couldn’t imagine why you would try so hard to live a moral life, to confess your sins and fast for an hour before receiving Him in Holy Communion, or spend time visiting him here in the Church.
From the perspective of non-believers, the ideals of Catholic Marriage might seem impossible to live up to, and Priestly Celibacy seems difficult and perplexing. But it is Jesus himself who gives us the strength and grace to live our vocations. It is by following Christ, renouncing ourselves, and taking up our cross that we are able to live this way. This is the fruit of the Cross of Christ, which is the source of all Christian life. (CCC 1615).
Jesus took up the heavy burden of our sins and offers us a light burden that he will help us to carry. For some the burden they carry may be a bodily burden of suffering and it might take the death of the body to relieve them of suffering. St. Paul reminds us in the first reading from Romans that we have to have a spiritual outlook on life. We have to be convinced that we are not living only for this life, but primarily for eternal life. But we know that Jesus has promised to raise us up again. In the Resurrection there will be no possibility of suffering for those who are in Christ.
We need to recognize humbly that our faith is a gift from the Lord. We have a duty to share it with those who don’t know what they’re missing. We should imitate Christ by doing our best to lighten the load that others carry. This will involve learning about our faith, living it well, and carrying our cross. That task becomes easier, Jesus promises, when we take advantage of all the Sacramental helps that we are given, and we see our lives with simple faith, in the light of the eternal life to come.
Father Matthew Keller