Monday, July 01, 2013

A Thought for Monday 7/1/13

“Come to Me, you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

I think this is probably the passage most of us would prefer to “they will scourge you in their synagogues” (Mt 10:17), or “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Mt 10:34).  Yet these lessons come from the same Blessed Heart and essentially mean the same thing.  Yet we wonder how it could be that the One who would give us “rest” is also the One who brings “not peace but a sword” or would allow us to be dragged to a scourging only because we would dare proclaim the Gospel to an unbelieving world.  It’s a good question and one any serious disciple would be compelled to ask.

The answer would also be illusive because there is a component of discipleship not many intentionally sign up for or willingly endure: suffering.  This involves not only the physical abuse we might endure (I just heard on the radio this morning that a priest was beheaded yesterday in the Middle East) but would also include being substantially isolated not only from family and friends but also from associates and others who like to call themselves “saved” but want no part of discipleship.  Suffering is a reality of genuine discipleship, but this suffering is not by divine will; it is rather divine acknowledgement of a hard truth in a world that “hated Jesus first”.

Too many inside and outside the Church want to live their own lives and do their own thing like Israel during the time of the Judges; for these and many others the Church is just something they do only on Sunday – if then.  They will call upon the Church when they have need, but they will be unavailable or unwilling if and when the Church may call upon them.  These are not disciples nor will they endure any suffering in this life for the Gospel because they are more than willing to go along in order to get along; they want to be “liked” or be “popular”.  They will never receive divine rest because, frankly, they don’t need it; they take their rest at their leisure and on their own terms.

The promise of divine rest is to those who endure, those who suffer not because they brought suffering upon themselves but because they believed enough in the Gospel of the Lord to actually live it.  For these nothing ever goes “their way”, but they don’t mind because they believe in the promise that when they have done all they can do for the Church and for the Gospel, the Lord will give them rest.  They believe this, and they are willing to stake their lives on it.

We cannot have it both ways.  There are no magic spells or incantations that make our wishes come true, and the Lord’s will is never aligned with our own nor can we rub a magic lamp and make the Lord act against His own will and answer to us.  Yet because some segments of the Church are willing to say anything or do anything to give the people what they want, there are many would-be disciples who are unprepared when bad things inevitably come.  It is no different than raising our children and teaching them the meaning of the word “no”, correcting them when they do wrong, and punishing them when they go off the charts in bad behavior.  Why should the Church be different?

Let us pray for opportunities to not only proclaim the Gospel but to also have the opportunities to share in the sufferings of the saints who have gone before us; genuine saints who were NOT “good ol’ boys” whom everyone liked.  They were faithful witnesses to the Truth – and now they have their rest.



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