Easy Yoke on the Narrow Way

Heinrich Fueger Prometheus
Prometheus Stealing Fire by Heinrich Fueger

Lord Jesus said that the way is narrow, the way that leads to life. Those who find it are few. Also, He said that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light, and everything has been revealed to the little ones. [O bien: español]

Does He contradict Himself? First let’s ask this question: What makes the way to life narrow?

Well, no one ever said keeping all ten of the Commandments, all the time, is easy. Keeping like six or seven at a time–maybe even eight–that wouldn’t take a whole lot of trouble. But the Lord never said, Be 70 or 80% holy! He said, Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

moses_ten_commandmentsThe way of life narrows even more: You have to honor father and mother, but you can’t love father, mother, son, or daughter more than Me, He said. You not only can’t kill your brother, even when he behaves like a total dork–you can’t even think mean thoughts about him. You not only can’t break the marriage bond, you can’t even think about marriage-bond-types of things, without total honesty and fidelity. In fact, it’s better not to think of marriage-bond-types of things at all, He said.

Not only can’t you lie, but you have to die for the truth, if it comes to it. Don’t swear false oaths; in fact, don’t swear at all. Actually, just listen; speak as infrequently as possible. And not only can you not want what belongs to your neighbor, you had better actually give away everything that belongs rightfully to you.

Don’t have any false gods. So go to Mass every Sunday. Or more often. Pray every day. Multiple times. Pray always.

So… You think it’s hard batting 1000 in the Major Leagues? Try batting 1000 with the Ten Commandments, as interpreted by God incarnate.

But He also said: Come to Me, all you who are weary, overburdened–because I am meek and humble and don’t make demands.

Don’t make demands? Whaddya call the Sermon on the Mount, O gentle Jesus?

On Wednesday we briefly discussed Prometheus. According to the ancient Greeks, the gods never gave fire to mankind. Prometheus went up to heaven and took fire from the gods, then brought it back to earth.

Fire is one thing; holiness is another. Holiness is divine fire. If we think that we can obtain holiness the way Prometheus obtained fire, we will discover the inconvenient truth that we can’t.

But the Lord Jesus never commanded us to steal holiness from God. He came to give us the holiness that we could never obtain on our own. He came to give it to us freely; He came to give Himself to us freely, holding nothing back, expecting nothing in return. In fact, He knew we would crucify Him. But He came to give us the Fire of God anyway.

He knew we could never obey the commandments, and get ourselves together for a worthwhile life, without His Gift. Following the commandments without Jesus isn’t “difficult.” It’s impossible. Following the commandments with Jesus? Easy!

confessionalWell… Easy for the really holy people. The rest of us have to stumble along, relying on mutual support from each other and constant infusions of heavenly assistance. We need to build up the basic habits that keep us close to Christ. And we need His help, and each other’s help, to cultivate those good habits, and stick to them. St. Benedict put it like this in his Rule for Monks:

We must establish a school for the Lord’s sevice, in founding which we hope to ordain nothing that is harsh and burdensome. But if, for good reason,… there be some strictness of discipline, do not at once… run away from the way of salvation, of which the entrance must needs be narrow. But as we progress, our hearts shall be enlarged and we shall run with the sweetness of love in the way of God’s commandments.

One habit we need: Going to confession once a month. Oh, yeah; that’s easy, Father! Talk about His yoke being easy and His burden light! What an easy priest!

Really? Shall I ask for a show of hands? From the people who have gone to confession twelve times since July 8, 2016?

Nothing makes following the commands of Jesus easier than going to confession regularly and admitting that I have failed to follow them. Maybe that sounds counter-intuitive. But it’s a documented fact of the spiritual life. My yoke is easy and My burden light for the little ones who humbly go to confession regularly.

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4 thoughts on “Easy Yoke on the Narrow Way

  1. My husband and I are converts and attend daily Mass which is a feat in itself. Nonetheless, just when I thought of getting into the minor leagues, you made us think of reading that “How to Make a Good Confession” again. Thanks for that, Father. Pray for more holy priests as we pray also for a very holy Bishop to come.

  2. Love the graphics on your blog (almost as good as the homiletics – jk – your sermons are pearls worthy of Bishops Barron and Sheen – exegesis, exhortation, and wit.)
    Is the priest at times a soda jerk…or a bartender? Both, I would guess. Distributing the good news of salvation in the halcyon seasons of life…or hearing weekly confessions…and distributing the same good news through gentle assignments of reparation.
    Monthly confession. Confession once a month. Next I suppose it’ll be daily Communion. Come on. Holiness? Perfection? Not possible. Not possible without His grace. And grace is received directly through the sacraments. More sacraments, more grace. More grace, more holiness. Sainthood even. Nobody talks like that anymore. That’s old-fashioned Baltimore stuff.
    The Gospels aren’t sugary sodas and they aren’t disorienting distillations. They’re more like a stack of big fat juicy steaks with a lot of gristle mixed in. Nutrient-dense and delicious, but tough to chew and swallow at times.
    I thank the living God for good priests like you, Father Mark.

  3. Ah, Bishop Sheen. Ah, the Baltimore stuff. Memories of good sermons like yours, Father Mark. The sad part is that you have to define things for most Catholics now as they don’t know what graces even are. You won’t find them going to church one day a week unless you sink your teeth into good Catholic books and begin to rid yourself of some worldly pleasures. Then maybe God will think you opened the gate and bestow you with graces from above. It’s a start – nothing is easy in this life but it’s not this life you need to worry about – it’s the next life. Holiness is a good goal. Perfection is God alone.

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