“I don’t want to burden you with this”.
This is a phrase most of us have said to someone at some point. From our own experience, we know that everyone has a limit to how much pain they can take on from others. Even those who love us the most can start to run out of compassion, sanity, and energy if they are constantly bombarded with our own anxieties, disappointments, and pain. But this is not true with God. Isaiah asks, “Do you not know or have you not heard?...God does not faint or grow weary”. He ALWAYS will be the shoulder we cry on and our source of strength. No struggle is too big or too small to burden Him with.
But we too are invited to carry a burden. In the Gospel, Jesus starts by saying “come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest”. At the sound of that invitation, I am imagining lounging around in some idyllic, verdant garden without a care in the world. But then Jesus says “take my yoke upon you and learn from me...for my yoke is easy and my burden light”. Wait a second...I still have to carry a burden?
The reality of this fallen world is that as long as we are on Earth, we will never be without a burden. But we can decide what kind of burden we take on. The wild animal who is yoke-free, is burdened with the savage reality of nature. He may starve, be eaten as prey, or get injured and left to die. But a yoked animal is cared for and protected by his master, and in return, he helps his owner accomplish something important. Just think of the donkey that carried Christ the Redeemer and the Blessed Mother to and from Bethlehem!
When we open ourselves to an intimate relationship with God, we are invited to turn all of our anxieties over to Him, and to let Him arrange the details of our lives. We also take on the responsibility of helping to accomplish His mission on earth and trusting that He will give us the strength and resources we need to do so. In Isaiah, the prophet says that all who hope in the Lord will “soar as with eagles’ wings, run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint”. These people are on the move. They are actively participating in a mission bigger than themselves, and God is giving them the fuel to do so. This doesn’t mean it will be painless. Jesus gave us the perfect example by literally carrying the burden of our salvation in the form of a cross on His shoulder. It was not without pain, but with the strength of God and with the end goal in mind, Jesus endured until His mission was accomplished.
This advent season, bring all your burdens to God. Open yourself up, lay it all at his feet, and feel His love wash over you. And then ask Him how you can help accomplish His mission. Ask Him which task He wills you to be burdened with so that you too can take part in the bountiful harvest of the Kingdom of Heaven.