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How I Found Strength in Heavy Burdens

July 16 2020 Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 392)

Reading 1   IS 26:7-9, 12, 16-19

The way of the just is smooth;
the path of the just you make level.
Yes, for your way and your judgments, O LORD,
we look to you;
Your name and your title
are the desire of our souls.
My soul yearns for you in the night,
yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you;
When your judgment dawns upon the earth,
the world’s inhabitants learn justice.
O LORD, you mete out peace to us,
for it is you who have accomplished all we have done.

O LORD, oppressed by your punishment,
we cried out in anguish under your chastising.
As a woman about to give birth
writhes and cries out in her pains,
so were we in your presence, O LORD.
We conceived and writhed in pain,
giving birth to wind;
Salvation we have not achieved for the earth,
the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth.
But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise;
awake and sing, you who lie in the dust.
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the land of shades gives birth.

 

Responsorial Psalm   102:13-14AB AND 15, 16-18, 19-21

R. (20b) From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.
You, O LORD, abide forever,
and your name through all generations.
You will arise and have mercy on Zion,
for it is time to pity her.
For her stones are dear to your servants,
and her dust moves them to pity.
R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.

 

Alleluia   MT 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Gospel   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.”

By Victoria Mastrangelo

I’ve been thinking about this scene in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in which the Pevensie children learn about Aslan and Susan asks if Aslan is a safe lion. Mr. Beaver responds bluntly:

“Safe?...Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with the Narnia series, Aslan is the Christ-figure and Mr. Beaver is absolutely right. Christ promised his followers a life that isn’t safe but that is eternally good. 

Today’s readings reinforce this idea in my mind beginning with Isaiah’s imagery of labor and birth. As a mother of three who has given birth unmedicated, I can tell you that it is truly laborious and doesn’t feel very safe as you go through it, however, it is oh so good in the end. 

Jesus picks up this theme in the gospel calling for those who “labor and are burdened” to rest in Him. I often feel like a “professional Catholic” because I teach high school theology. It can seem like the hard part of living the Gospel is the struggle of getting teenagers to buy it.

The “labor” in my Christian life is my day job meaning that I often slack on my spiritual life. It’s when my personal life gets hard and I begin to feel that desolation, or lack of Christ’s presence, that I complain about the burden.

I feel like I have been abandoned at the start of my labor pains.

I complain and call out to God because I expect him to be safe, to be easy because I “work so hard for Him” at my job. 

Both readings remind me that it is only in God that good can come from the labor. Isaiah reminds us that “the inhabitants of the earth cannot bring salvation forth”, but the “land of shades” can give birth through God. Christ echoes this by asking us to take upon his yoke and rest in Him. He ends with those famous words “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” 

The mission that I was baptized into is the mission of building the kingdom here on earth. This is the yoke that I must wear, the burden I must carry. Christ does not offer to remove the burden but to tie it to Himself so it becomes lighter.

He doesn't remove the obstacles, hardships, pain of life to make it safe for me to live the Gospel and build the Kingdom.

When I take the time to do the work that builds up my relationship with Him, the easier those burdens become. 

For me, this mission looks like teaching teenagers, prayer, service, fighting against injustice and for human dignity. None of this work is safe and I will pick up further burdens in taking it on, but when it’s under the yoke of Christ, I can take a moment to rest in Him, build up strength, and move forward with Him for the end we are working on is the Good. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Mastrangelo is a wife, mother of 3, and high school theology teacher in Houston, Tx. She is an introvert and a Ravenclaw so she loves to read multiple books at once, write, drink coffee, play trivia and listen to podcasts. Her favorite saints are Edith Stein, Ignatius of Loyola, Dorothy Day and John Paul II which tell you a lot about her spirituality and love of the feminine genius and social justice. You can find more about her here.

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