Jul 15 – Memorial for St. Bonaventure, bishop, religious, doctor
St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) entered the Franciscan Order when he was 22. At the age of 35 he was chosen General of his Order and restored a perfect calm where peace had been disturbed by internal dissensions. He did much for his Order and composed The Life of St. Francis. He also assisted at the translation of the relics of St. Anthony of Padua.
“…my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
Today’s Gospel reading contains probably one of the most well-known verses amongst Christians. I confess I have heard it many times before and yet have not really pondered over its meaning. Often, I take things at face value, be it Bible verses, people or situations. With this superficial understanding, it is a wonder that I have not made more blunders than I already have.
Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
When I first read the passage, I naturally interpreted that if I were to follow Jesus, then it will be smooth sailing from then on. He would remove all obstacles from my path, and everything will be easy-peasy. This, I admit, is very naïve, very shallow and very misguided.
Upon learning more about Jesus, His teachings and the Catholic faith, I began to truly understand what the passage means. I still don’t get it perfectly, but I do have a better understanding than before.
It is true that Jesus offers rest for weary souls who are heavily burdened in whichever way — whether we are burdened by the daily amount of work, worries and troubles, we are able to find rest within our Lord. While He offered us rest for our wearied souls, He did not offer to take away our burdens. Instead, He tells us to shed our burden but take upon our shoulders His ‘yoke’. You may ask, why would we want to take on His burden since He is God and His burden would crush us? This is the mystery and wonderment of our Lord. If we all but follow Him and take up His burden, not only is His burden light compared to ours, but we will find rest and peace. For the Lord isn’t leaving His burden upon our shoulders without equipping us. He is doing the heavy lifting and walking beside us every step of the way. His burden is light to us because He is carrying us, supporting us throughout our hardships, our sorrows and our confusions. If we trust in Him, we will find rest and peace for not only our minds, but our souls and our hearts.
Not long ago, there was an occasion where I felt heavily burdened, confused and could not figure out what to do next. Emotionally drained and spiritually tired, I turned to the Lord in desperation and prayed. I left all my issues at His feet and trusted that He, who is able to achieve the impossible, will be able to guide me through the muddle of confusion. The Lord did not disappoint. Soon after, He granted me the grace and peace to move beyond the obstacle. He did what I could not have done on my own. All I had to do was to believe and trust in Him to obtain the rest for my heart, mind and soul. He gave me a peace that I could not find anywhere else. That is the power of our Lord. If we trust in Him, no matter how insurmountable our burden seems; to Him, it is only a small bump in the road that can easily be overcome. Jesus, I trust in you.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)
Prayer: Dear Lord, grant us the courage and faith to let go of our worldly burdens and take Your yoke upon us. Grant us the rest and peace that this world cannot provide. Jesus, I trust in You.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for Your love and mercy and for never abandoning us, always ready to pick up the pieces and help us to journey on.