A Cut and Paste World

I try not to get too involved in politics on this site but there are times it is hard not to. This is one of them. Currently, there has been a lot of attention focused on the detaining of children who have crossed the border. They have been herded into detention centers and have been separated from their parents. Of course, we don’t really know what to believe since we can’t trust the media to be honest.

Continue reading “A Cut and Paste World”

It’s No Yoke

From Panoramia

 

Anyone who grew up in New England probably took a fourth grade field trip to Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. It is a recreation of a village from the 1830’s with original buildings and artifacts from a time where day-to-day life was, well although not easier, certainly less complicated. As part of this outdoor museum there is a working farm, and on this farm there is a duck, e-i-e-i-o, wait that is another farm. There are oxen on this farm which are used for many purposes, they were pretty much the precursor to modern day tractors.

I remember watching the farmer work a pair of the oxen through the fields, pulling the mower or the tiller or sometimes a wagon. The oxen wore a yoke. This yoke helped the oxen work as a team. Back in the time of Jesus, these yokes would have been made from wood, and hand crafted especially for the ox who would wear it. When you put the yoke on each ox, it would release the burden from the other, this way, the load would be lighter. As the saying goes, two oxen are better than one.

In Matthew 11: 28-30 Jesus tells us that when we are burdened we should take his yoke, and he will help relieve our burdens. And since it is Jesus who is making the yoke, it will fit perfectly and we won’t even know it is on.

How many times do we feel overwhelmed by life’s burdens and wish we would have help? I know this is where I was for most of my adult life. I know I was burdened every day, worrying about how to pay the bills, my kids, my marriage, all the things that modern culture tells us we need to worry about. My life was all about things and getting more or them, after all I wouldn’t be happy without them, again because our culture said so. I never asked anyone, especially not Jesus to help lighten the burden. I never took the yoke Jesus was offering me and my life greatly suffered from it. Not that my life was all that bad, but as those of you who have read this blog know, I definitely believe it could have been a lot different and better.

I also remember those oxen would also wear blinders, so they couldn’t see what was going on around them, these blinders would eliminate distractions. They might not even realize there was another ox helping them. Now sometimes we shouldn’t be wearing blinders but there are also some times when we do need them. In my case, whenever I write, I have a problem getting distracted. I tend to have either the radio or the TV on, or am talking to the woman I love, or have the internet going and start surfing. This is why I need blinders, to keep me focused. In fact, they might help me stay on topic when I write, like now.

Like with the oxen, blinders will not let us know that there is another in the yoke with us. We won’t even know Jesus is there for us, working with us. He is always there but unless we ask, he won’t help us, well okay, indirectly he still does, I can attest to that, but our burdens won’t be lighter. Until I understood that Jesus was there, right next to me, and more than happy to help, I struggled. When I finally woke up (have I told the story about falling off the back of the truck?) and asked Jesus for his help, my life changed. I am still struggling, but at least I can see the forest for the trees. I know that God has a plan for me, I don’t know what it is but I know there is one, and I am doing my best to discern what it is. As I have written before, I also know what the end goal of life is, I know what I hope is waiting for me, and I am working towards that goal. Whether I reach it or not I don’t know, but I am giving it my best shot.

Jesus said to the crowds: “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.” – Matthew 11:28 -30

If you go to Old Sturbridge Village, be sure to visit Saint Anne’s Shrine and Parish, maybe I’ll see you at Mass.

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Where There is a Will

When I look back at my journey over the last three or so years, there are times when I think I have made so much progress and then there are days, like yesterday, when I realize I still have a long way to go. I will get into what happened yesterday a little later.

One of the bigger questions I have had in my journey has always been “What is God’s will for me?” How do we know what God wants us to do? I came across a writing from Peter Kreeft, someone way smarter than I can ever hope to be on theology and God and stuff. In this article on “Discernment” he says there are two points that are relevant to the question of how we can discern God’s will:

First, they tell us that God not only knows and loves us in general but that he cares about every detail of our lives, and we are to seek to walk in his will in all things, big and little. Second, they tell us that he has given us free will and reason because he wants us to use it to make decisions.

He then goes on to talk about how one can best discern God’s will.  The link is above so if you want to read the article you may, just come back when you are done. Back? Okay. Basically it comes down to learning as much as you can about the teachings of God, then letting what you have learned guide you in all your actions and decisions. If you believe it is right in God’s eyes, then it is the right thing to do.

What is one of the first things God teaches us? “To love our neighbors as ourselves.” Jesus also tells us:

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25: 40 – 46

This means whenever we have a chance we should take the time to help others, to do the right thing. We never know if that person who needs help is Jesus.

Which leads me to yesterday and a wrong choice I made. While working yesterday, I was driving on a two lane highway out in the northern regions of Vermont, and to my left I saw a motorcycle lying on its side with the rider sitting in the grass next to it. I could see the rider was moving, and there were two bicyclists in front of me who stopped to help. I kept driving, in a hurry to finish my work so I could get home. As soon as I drove past, I realized I made the wrong decision, I should have stopped. Maybe I could have done something, maybe not, maybe the person was hurt, maybe not, I don’t know, nor will I ever now.

For the rest of the day every time I tried to justify why I didn’t stop I realized there was nothing more important than doing what is right in God’s eyes. What was the right thing to do? Stopping and helping.

As I thought about it, I realized a few things. For one thing, old habits are hard to break. We become so accustomed to “minding our own business”, especially if we live or work in the city, that we don’t “see” the problem, or we let someone else deal with it. Helping others isn’t always the first thing on our minds. We also live in a world where we are taught to fear everyone and everything, especially strangers. Media today is full of scary stories, how we aren’t safe from… well anything. This is where the whole concept of trusting in God comes into play.

The right thing to do would have been to stop. That was what God wanted me to do, that was my chance of the day to “be like Christ”, a kind of test, although God doesn’t test us. I failed.

As Jesus teaches us in the “Parable of the Good Samaritan”Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”  He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Here are some links to a few of Peter Kreeft’s books. If you purchase them using these links (or anything else using these links as a gateway to Amazon), you will be supporting the Wayward Catholic.

Jesus Shock

Prayer For Beginners

You Can Understand The Bible: A Practical And Illuminating Guide To Each Book In The Bible

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