Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Divine Paradox Today's gospel from daily mass has a perfect example of what we could call the Divine Paradox. Jesus in this passage from Matthew says "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Now, most of us like that one. Yes, rest in You. Got it, and when I search my soul, I realize that I really want that. Augustine's oft quoted quote (but we should really slow down and chew this one some time) comes to mind: "You have made us for Yourself O Lord, and we are restless until we rest in You!" But then comes the paradox. "Take my yoke upon you... for my yoke is easy and my burden light." The reality about Christianity, and I think so few of us get this, is NOT that it is an escape from reality, or suffering, or pain, but that it's actually a leap right into that very Mystery. Rest and peace come paradoxically through our embracing the wood of a cross... Huh? Our culture fears the burden, the weight, and the labor of life. We take our pills and try our best to keep amused, or busy, or both. But the burden is always there. So Jesus, in this Divine Paradox, tells us to be realists..... to pick it up and take it to him, and it will become HIS. This is the rest and the peace Christians celebrate; that we no longer need to carry the enigma of suffering and sorrow alone. When we press it into Jesus and the pattern of our lives matches the pattern of the Cross, we are free.... we can see and we can rest on that Holy Wood. Suffering and burdens and trials are no longer thick, opaque, heart-numbing things... they become like stained glass through which we see Light streaming down... the image of Christ reconciling the world to Himself. The Mystery of Suffering remains, but light and warmth flood the soul. Somehow, if we take on Jesus, we find rest for our souls, the burden becomes light, and the light becomes hope.
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