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. (Mt. 11:28-30) I need to hear these words often these days. Life can certainly become burdensome at times. We all know this is true. However, those of us who bear the name Christian know the One to whom we can always turn, the Lord Jesus.he says to each of us this morning, Come to Me. We need to surrender our burdens and freely take up His Yoke.
A Yoke. We are now yoked to the Lord, and, in Him, with one another.
CHESAPEAKE,VA (Catholic Online) - Our Gospel today is short, but profoundly important: 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. (Mt. 11:28-30)
I need to hear these words very often these days. Life can certainly become burdensome at times. We all know this is true. However, those of us who bear the name Christian know the One to whom we can always turn, the Lord Jesus. He says to each of us this morning, "Come to Me". We need to surrender our burdens and freely take up His Yoke.
Throughout the biblical accounts of the earthly ministry and life of Jesus we discover, in his Sacred Humanity, the path to finding true rest. He was regularly in prayer. He lived in a continual communion with the Father. He now gives us the grace we need to live in the same way.
His prayer opened the heavens, brought provision to the hungry, gave Him clarity for making decisions and brought the glory of heaven to earth. Prayer still does all of this, and more, for those who will learn to live their lives immersed in God and study in its classroom.
I am frequently asked what I think is the greatest need in the Church today. Because of my work at the intersection of faith and culture, people presume to know how I will answer. They expect me to be what they perceive to be action oriented. My answer is simple. "The greatest need in the Church today is people who pray", I respond.
One of my personal heroes, and one of the great treasures of the Church in our age, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, was a close friend and confidante of St. Josemaria Escriva. Like his friend, the Bishop was a man of true holiness, the kind only formed through living in an intimate communion with the Lord.
He once wrote: The so-called "practical people" are not really the most useful in the service of Christ's Church, nor are those who merely expound theories. Rather it is the true contemplatives who best serve her; those with the steady, generous and passionate desire of transfiguring and divinizing all creation with Christ and in Christ. It may sound paradoxical, but in the Church of Jesus Christ, the mystic is the only practical person.
Through prayer we can recover the capacity for an intimate communion of love with the living God and plunge ourselves into its embrace. Prayer is a process of Love exchanged for love. In its classroom we learn how to live in this communion throughout the day and in all circumstances.
Jesus was, in the words of the ancient Christian creed, true God and true man. Sometimes we think that He could pray and live this way because He was Divine. However, we need to remember that in his sacred humanity he prayed. He shows us the fullness of humanity and calls us to become what spiritual writers have long called sons (and daughters) in the Son. This is our divine filiation. We can pray like Him because we pray in Him.
Through prayer we can now cry out with Jesus, Abba Father. No longer alienated from God, we can actually participate in the very life of the Trinity, the inner life of God, beginning NOW and opening up into eternity and the life to come. God dwells in us and we dwell in Him through His Spirit. Coming to not only intellectually assent to this, but live it, is the heart of true prayer.
Prayer is not about doing or getting but rather about being, receiving, giving, and loving. Prayer is the path to communion through Jesus Christ with the Father, in Jesus Christ with one another, and in the Trinitarian God with the world which He created and is recreating and redeeming in Christ.
All of this is made possible through the Holy Spirit who invites us - right now - into to the very inner life of the Trinity, through prayer. The good Bishop was right; we need impractical people, who pray. Let us hear the invitation this morning and Come to Jesus.Let us take His yoke upon oursleves and find the meaning of His promise. Freedom and self surrender are not at odds.
St. Josemaria Escriva wrote in Friends of God:
I insist, and I would like to engrave this deep in your hearts, that freedom and self-surrender are not contradictory. They sustain one another. Freedom can only be given up for love; I cannot conceive any other reason for surrendering it. And I am not just playing with words or phrases. When people give themselves freely, at every moment of their self-surrender, freedom renews their love; to be renewed in that way is to be always young, generous, capable of high ideals and great sacrifices.
I remember how pleased I was when I was told that the Portuguese term for young people is os novos, the new ones. That is just what they are. I tell you this because, although I have been around a good many years, when I pray at the foot of the altar 'to God who gives joy to my youth', I feel young and I know that I will never consider myself old. If I keep true to my God, Love will constantly vivify me. My youth will be renewed like that of the eagle.
It's because we love freedom that we tie ourselves down. Only pride sees such bonds as a heavy chain. True humility, which is taught us by the One who is meek and humble of heart, shows that his yoke is easy and his burden light: his yoke is freedom and love and unity; his yoke is the Life which he won for us on the Cross. (Friends of God Freedom #31)
Deacon Keith A. Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. Both organizations are committed to the conversion of culture. An ordained Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and seven grandchildren, He is a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate who served as the first and founding Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice in the nineteen nineties. He has long been active at the intersection of faith, values and culture and serves as Special Counsel to Liberty Counsel. He is a contributing writer to THE STREAM. He writes regularly for Catholic News Agency and is the Editor in Chief of Catholic Online. This reflection on prayer is an excerpt from a book by Deacon Fournier which will be made available through Catholic Online and its faith partners next year.
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