by Fr Richard Heilman | July 14, 2016 11:28 AM
Just last week, we buried my friend, mentor, spiritual director and confessor. Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer, although aged, died very unexpectedly. I miss him so much. I’ve asked him to be my prayer warrior now.
I’ve been dragging my feet discerning who I will seek out for a new confessor, especially since I need to find a priest who is least likely to lecture me on scrupulosity, because I tend to go to Confession about every 5-7 days. As a result, it has been about 3 weeks since my last Confession. The reason I go so frequently is not because I have a bunch of serious sins, but because God has been faithful to calm the storms of life each time I go.
Well, it’s been pretty stormy (in spiritual warfare terms) in the past few days, and so last night I gave my friend, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, a call, and off I went. I’ve only gone to him a few times, but each time I do, God seems to especially bless me. I don’t think we should get into quantifying the blessings of one priest’s confession over another, but I have simply made that observation. Maybe God is showing me that He wants me to go to him, for God’s reasons. I don’t know.
So, after going to him last night, I woke up this morning with all kinds of thoughts pertaining to the scripture passage where Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” I think I had this article written, in my mind, before I got out of the shower this morning. As the time drew near to begin my morning Lectio Divina over today’s Mass readings, I was hoping I could somehow incorporate the article, in my mind, about that “yoke is easy” scripture passage.
Well, it turns out I didn’t need to somehow find a way to incorporate that scripture passage into today’s Gospel, because it turns out that *it is* today’s Gospel. WOW! God … You are amazing!!
Here is the reading:
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” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Why is it that Jesus seems to be changing His tune from “How hard it is …” (Mark 10:24-25) … to His “yoke is easy”?
Well, if you look at the “How hard it is” passage in context, Jesus says it is “the rich” who find it hard. When you look at the “yoke is easy” passage, Jesus was just referring to the “childlike”:
At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike” (Matthew 11:25).
In essence, Jesus warns the rich that they are “prone to” abandoning God in favor of such gods as prestige, status, power and materialism. Along with these comes an anti-authority spirit, that makes it very difficult to let go of their need to “control.” So, in other words, they have a propensity to “be their own gods.” Or, at least, feel they “do not need God.”
Think about how difficult living a truly devout Catholic life would be for someone so fixated in their claim to be in control (in charge), especially when a truly devout Catholic life asks us to repent and submit to Divine Revelation – Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture – as well as any legitimate Church authority (priest, bishop, pope). Jesus admits that, for the rich, this is as hard as trying to get a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.
So, what is it that makes a truly devout Catholic life easy? Jesus points to children, or being “childlike.” Why? Children understand their utter dependence on authority. Their “trust level” is very high. That’s why they can learn whole languages at a very young age. They are told “that’s a cow,” and they believe it … no questions asked. And so, children possess a necessary quality of “docility.”
There is a real “freedom” that comes with this childlike “docility.” It can be very laborious and burdensome to be our own gods. Life can, many times, seem hectic and out of control, especially if someone is obsessed with “keeping up appearances” or “trying to break into” elite social groups. The freedom that comes, once we let God be God in our lives, allows us to move forward with a real confidence or “trust” (Jesus I trust in You!) that we are loved and cared for. All we need to “be” is a “child of God.”
One of my favorite images is that of John the Beloved, at the Last Supper, resting on the chest of Jesus (see image above). That’s the kind of relationship I strive for with Jesus. So close, that I can just “rest in His Presence,” knowing that He has my back … literally (as in the image above).
This “rest” comes once we “completely submit” to Him. This is, as I have written about, the first and most necessary Gift of the Holy Spirit: The Gift of Awe and Wonder (or Fear of the Lord). In the moment one receives that gift, they are changed. They repent of making themselves their own god, and submit to allowing God be their God. Everything changes in that moment. We are no longer attached to such worldly concerns as prestige, status, power and materialism, but we are now living our lives “only” to please God, Whom we love SO MUCH! I have, as Jesus puts it, become “meek and humble of heart” … I have become “childlike.”
Now I can just rest in His arms.
The following presentation by Fr. Chad Ripperger is very eye opening, as he explores how the demonic spirit of the “vice to gain” (propensity of the rich) has been growing through each generation since thew late 1800s.
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