Praise and adoration! That is the call of life in Christ. We are celebrating the Easter season, celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and the promise of new life fulfilled in His holy sacrifice, but so often even the most joyful events are overshadowed by our personal struggles. The everyday grind, upcoming events, worry, and depression weigh heavily upon us as we struggle to persevere through the joyful while experiencing emotional pain. How can we raise ourselves up to praise and adoration amidst these chronic or sudden travails that seek to rob joy and deaden hope?
Can we not hear the voice of Jesus, calm and assured, speaking gently to us?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29
At first, Jesus’ counsel seems counterintuitive: “Take my yoke upon you.” What?! How can he ask for us to “take my yoke” when we are already carrying so much? Could it be that bearing this new burden will somehow liberate us from the old, or perhaps, replace it?
We must understand that when Jesus offered his yoke to us he was not offering the burden of the law (which afflicted Jewish people and was outside the self); he was not offering the burden of pride or selfishness or self-deceit. You will also notice that Jesus does not say, “I will throw off your yoke and set you free,” for he knew we would not be free in any of the ways humans may wish for their version of “free.” Remember that a care-free life is not a life free from care. Our generation knows that all too well; we pride ourselves on our independence and yet we are not free of spirit, or emotion, or even of mind. We are not going to raise ourselves up to praise and adoration–we can’t; if we could we would have done so already.
Jesus tells us to take His yoke, to bear His life in relationship and service.
To do so does not mean we abdicate our responsibilities or are suddenly free from our chosen path of work and family. It does mean that as we fulfill those same responsibilities we are doing so by relying on Christ and His love. It means that His sacrifice and call to us to follow Him are more than just words once spoken; they are the actions of our lives that we depend upon, and He is the Savior that provides and transforms. In Him, we find perfect service and peace and that peace covers all of our goings and comings. Our efforts are sanctified because we are striving in Him and it is His love that covers us and makes our burdens light and easy to bear. He promises us that His love will bring new light into the gloom of our responsibilities and free our spirits to soar with His energy as we joyfully overcome that which was insurmountable before.
As we seek the ability to give Praise and Adoration! through the power of the Holy Spirit, we must also remember that Jesus told us, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” He has invited us into Himself to learn from him in order that we can accomplish these things and so much more. Praise and adoration are possible through the gift of the Holy Spirit and by way of our trust and relinquishment in and to Christ.
In Praise and Adoration,
Father Bill Burk†