The Gospel of Matthew, to be read in many churches this weekend, is plainly put and known by almost all denominations of faithful people. In that 11th Chapter Jesus issues the call to everyone around him, and all of us here and now: “Come unto me all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, 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.”
Frankly, you can’t beat a deal like that! Or can you? The answer is, no we can’t. What Jesus offers is a way of releasing oneself from the burdens of selfishness that comes from being a human. When we give up being self-centered and become God-centered instead, trying to be good, and sinless, becomes easy, as Jesus proclaims.
Then, instead of reading and memorizing all of the laws of the Old Testament we only need to adopt and adhere to: Love God with all your heart, soul and mind; and your neighbor as yourself. It is that simple.
St. Paul, in a letter he wrote to the Christian people of Rome spoke to the fact that it was NOT easy; in fact, it was terribly difficult for him personally. He admitted to the Romans, and himself, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do everything I hate.”
This Apostle, one chosen by Christ himself in a confrontation of faith on the road to Damascus, has a difficult time, keeping the evil that dwells within him, in his flesh, under control. He freely admits, “I can will what is right, but I can not do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”
In making these statement Paul was telling the Romans that he had as much difficulty as any of them had. That he had to keep his beliefs in the front of his eyes all the time, too. Because just as the Romans were always being tempted to sin, so was he; and life in Christ was a constant battle with the sin that is innate in all of us.
So, the eternal question becomes, what do we do? How do we manage to live a life away from the constant temptations that beset us each and every day? “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Paul asks.
He then answers for himself, and all of us today: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” AMEN
The Rev. George O. Martin is an Ordained Deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 17th and Adams, Great Bend. Send email to email@example.com.