Can there be such things as happy burdens?
For some it might be running a parish or keeping a vow; for others, raising a child or sustaining a relationship; perhaps it is paying off a home or maintaining one’s health. Conscious efforts are required, but they are outweighed by the subsequent fulfilment that makes them happy burdens. These scenarios could throw light on today’s gospel where Jesus calls to himself those who labour and are overburdened.
Ironically, Jesus offers both rest and a burden and yoke (though his ones are Light ‘n’ Easy respectively). If we take Jesus’ yoke and burden to be his teaching and way of life, then our struggles will always pale in comparison to the reward of growing in wholeness; in holiness. So what burdens does Jesus invite us to trade in? We all have our own: fears, cynicisms, grudges… the list goes on.
The yoke (gk. zygos) which Jesus mentions was designed to distribute the load between two beasts. No doubt, Jesus’ ‘burden’ – his teaching and way of life – often entail courage, hope, mercifulness… the list goes on. These too can sometimes require heavy lifting. Thus the image of Christ, not just teaching, but sharing our yoke ought to fill us with hope!
His ‘burdens’ can appear to be naïve to a broken world. The world offers us its own teachings and way of life. It promises fulfilment if we only buy one more product, or hold a bit more power over others, or push ourselves a little closer to the centre of attention. Here there is never rest. The more we have, the heavier the burdens become. We are not called to this.
Having been baptised into Christ, we are called to follow Him and be part of Jesus’ work of renewing the world, starting with ourselves.
How then can we lift these Christian ‘burdens’, these gifts with Christ? Through bringing our struggles to prayer, to seeking to be transformed more into Christ through the Mass and Reconciliation, to read the scriptures and seek the counsel of the wise among us and to be creative with how we take on Christian ‘burdens’.