“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.”
O God, you are meek and humble of heart, your example continues to inspire men and women, like St. Francis, to dedicate their lives to the salvation of souls. They are humble hearts who imitate your heart by bending their backs beneath the load of the cross that they accept because they love you. Lord Jesus, help me to let go of myself, to love you to the end.
Petition for the Meditation
The grace of accepting the cross in my life with love.
Points for Meditation
St. Francis is mostly remembered because of his love for Lady Poverty. It was poverty, in the words of Pope Pius XII, “that lightens the burden of the journey, gives wings to the feet, and inflames the heart with the zeal to set ablaze the whole earth with that fire the Redeemer brought to earth.” Poverty is smiled upon by many, sometimes despised by men, looked for by very few. But as Pope Pius teaches it sets us free from the bonds of the earth. Poverty is lived in different ways according to the specific vocation that God has given to each one. Parent can’t practice the poverty of a hermit, nor should they. Yet it is a virtue for us all. What we need to do to make progress in our spiritual life is to detach ourselves from all material things. Money cannot be our idol, nor can comfort, nor fame, nor other material goods. They are means, they are creatures that God permits us to use for his greater glory and our salvation. Above all, poverty cuts us free from our attachment to our plans, ideas, remarks and decisions. This is a poverty we are all called to. When I give my opinions center stage to the point that they become dogmas in my heart, I have fallen down before them and given them worship. They are no longer means to an end; they have become the very goal of my existence. And it is in these moments that bitterness becomes present in my heart. This can happen to us all in many different ways. That is why we need to practice interior poverty, not just material poverty. Our heart’s treasure must be Christ and all things that are his.
2) My yoke is easy
What is the yoke of Christ? To be bound by the bonds of Christ. It is the weight of the cross, suffering and pain that come with following Christ. St. Francis had to bear the stigmata on his body as a sign of his Christian vocation. We are called to bear the internal stigmata, the invisible stigmata on our souls with patience and humility. This stigmata is the cross that Christ lays on our shoulders as a condition to be his followers. At times we rebel against the cross. It hurts; we shrink from it because we are afraid. We forget that the cross comes to us from the One who loves us more than we could ever love ourselves. We forget that it is our Creator and Redeemer who offers us the cross.
When we accept the cross with humility and love, perhaps a little fearful, it is not long before we experience just how true the words of the Lord are, “it is easy.” Yes, the cross becomes “easy” because it is love not self-interest that moves us. It is no longer a burden that crushes us. By the grace of God it becomes a source of life and of joy. Through the yoke of Christ, obedience to his holy will, dedication to the pursuit of holiness, a life of charity, we begin to be free for the first time. The more we embrace the cross the easier it is to carry. This is so because we have Christ supporting us along the way. Then the words, the “Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want, ..., fresh and green are the meadows where he gives me rest” take on their true meaning in our lives. To accept the yoke of Christ is to walk in the will of God. And in our lives we begin to experience God’s goodness, his kindness, and his unfailing love. The yoke of Christ, the bondage of faith, is the freedom of the children of God. For those who accept Christ are living in the truth. They are free. They are also living in his love, which is the abundance of life that he promised he would give us.
Dialogue with Christ
Lord, at times it is not easy to embrace the values that you spell out for me in the Gospel. I so often want to arrange things my way. I like to decide how virtues ought to be lived and what is a fair cross for me objectively to carry. Hidden in these attitudes there lies a lack of faith and love. They reflect a confidence that is so feeble that the cross stands for all that is unbearable. But Lord, you know that I want to take up your cross. You don’t have to explain anything. You don’t have to justify anything. Just let me know and love you more and more. Let my life – like St. Francis’s – bear fruit for the whole Church. That will be enough.
Renew my commitment to take up my cross in my daily life. What is it that God wants from me, here and now? I accept it with generosity and confidence.