I seem to have these times when frustration builds and I can’t get rid of it, no matter what I do it hangs on. And after a while I notice that my prayer life isn’t what it should be, it seems mechanical, thin, devoid of a true sense of the spiritual. I am not praying as I ought. Eventually, I just surrender to the frustration and I beg our Lord for help. Then… amazingly… frustration ends because my prayer life is alive again. Of course during this period of frustration I am always asking the Lord for help – but it isn’t until I get to the point where I just open myself up, truly admit my weakness; my lowliness; my utter dependence on God and throw myself at His feet and ask for His strength that I move forward. And this whole situation tends to be cyclical – it happens again and again. It is as if I didn’t learn from the experience to see it coming again.
But I am a product of my society, the post-modern culture where man ‘can do everything’; where reliance on someone else, asking for help, is looked on as failure or at the very least as incomplete success. Even though I know this is far from the truth, even though I can see how illogical this is and see the damage this does to people and families; this societal attitude is all around me and within me and is something that I have to deal with – the paradigms of society are hard to remove. It is very tiring to try and keep something foremost in your mind and heart, especially when you can’t seem to find any support structure to help you and it goes against the societal norms that we are called to live in.
With this in mind – today’s Gospel is, at least to me, very relevant. We heard this morning Jesus saying to us:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
As I reflected on this passage it dawned on me that my frustration builds, my prayer life stagnates, my journey grinds to halt when I don’t let Jesus strengthen me. He offers it to me always – I need to accept it always. We, who feel burdened during our daily activities, need to hand these burdens to the Lord. We need to lay ourselves at His feet and allow him to shoulder those burdens with us, allow Him to make our yoke His yoke. But this is where I come back to seemingly having no structure to help me. What in my daily routine is pointing me to this message; to His help? What is helping me share my burdens with Jesus?
I believe that this is best done when we are constantly offering our day up in prayer, as prayer. But it has to be true prayer, a prayer where we throw our hearts and minds wide open and plead for Jesus to take everything; the kind of prayer that allows us to be humble, and meek, and truthful about our abilities without Him – and truthful, confident and secure in our abilities with Him. With this type of prayer; I becomes We; me becomes Us and frustration is replaced by peace – two sets of shoulders carry the yoke and the burdens become lighter. But my prayer life needs to grow into this total otherness, this openness to His gift, this willingness to not withhold myself from Him. I need to realize that I don’t fail if I am helped, and I have total success when We work together! This is the structure He has given me. I just need to use it! When I feel rushed and speed through my prayers I need stop, slow down and let my prayer come from my very being. My paradigm shouldn’t be stopping what I am doing to pray; it should be leaving my prayer to go out and witness. I should love to pray, savor the time spent in prayer, because it there that I am helped by He who is love! And with love, all things are brighter, all things are lighter.