It is almost mid-week and a line from Sunday’s gospel is still floating in my mind like a comforting mantra:
““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 11:25-30
It is nothing less than a tragedy that so many people, perhaps especially those who have been baptised as Catholics but now have little connection with the Church, think of Christianity as a burden of disciplines and rules that limit life’s freedom and fun. It’s also a tragedy that so often the beauty of the faith that enables abundant living is reduced to moralism and legalism. How did we every forget that Jesus came that we might have life, and have it in abundance. John 10:10.
The problem with Christianity isn’t that it has been tried and abandoned, but that most people who reject faith, might only have tried it as religion, or as a moral guide bringing useful values to human existence. This may be a fruit of Christian faith, but it is an impossibly unattractive starting point. Christianity can be lived only as a vibrant relationship with the living God in Jesus Christ. Our starting point is not behaviour, but intimate relationship with Jesus. I am reminded of the powerful comment of Pedro Arrupe:
Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything. Pedro Arrupe SJ