“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:30)
Robert Bellarmine, a Bishop and Doctor of the Church in the sixteenth century, asked what is this burden that does not weigh heavy or this yoke that not does not weary. He says, “It is, of course, that first and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.”
Mark reports Jesus’ more complete statement as “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)
This is a love that involves all aspects of our being – our heart and soul, encompassing our non-physical nature and inner being; our mind involving our intellect; and our strength, involving our physical actions. In other words, it is a total and complete love.
I have a friend Paul, whose daughter Maria has been ministering to orphaned children with special needs in Uganda. Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities there are often viewed as cursed, outcasts, unwanted and unloved. For the last couple of years, Maria, who is only 20, has been working through the Gem Foundation in ministering to the children.
One thing Maria observed was that a high percentage of the children actually had parents, but they didn’t have the resources or societal support to care for their children and pay for their medical expenses, often leading to maltreatment and abandonment.
So this August, Maria changed her vocation from caring directly for the children to helping to develop an organization that will train, empower and provide micro-finance and employment for parents so that they will have the resources to care for their children instead of abandoning them.
Maria is loving these children with her heart and soul. She is loving them with her intellect in coming up with the idea to develop the means for the parents to provide for the children themselves instead of abandoning them. Finally, she is loving them with her strength in the actions she is taking in helping to form this new enterprise with an organization called Imprint Hope Center.
We might ask how this example of the love of God is a light burden. It is filled with sacrifice and self-giving. But when love is complete, it is filled with a joy that sustains and transcends personal sacrifice.
This is how the rest of us, who might never be called to serve children with special needs in Africa, can relate to Maria’s example. We all seek a life filled with purpose, fulfillment and happiness. When we truly love God and our neighbor as he commands, our joy is complete and our burden is light.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” (Mt. 11: 28-30)