Pope Francis made headlines all week long during his pastoral visit to the United States, but it’s one of the things he said early on that sticks with me as an enduring blessing.
I’m not even sure anymore where I read this, the words he spoke to the US bishops. But I do know I was immediately engrossed by his statement…and its evocativeness:
At times in our work we can … feel the heaviness of the yoke that we forget that we have received it from the Lord. It seems to be ours alone, and so we drag it like weary oxen working a dry field, troubled by the thought that we are laboring in vain. We can forget the profound refreshment which is indissolubly linked to the One who has made us the promise.
So many of the good things, the everyday things in our lives, can be like that…can’t they?
Our works, our ministries, our relationships – they become a bit humdrum over time. We’ve seen it all before, and we may even begin to wonder what attracted us to this mundane activity in the first place. It becomes ‘work in a dry field’…with the potential to drag us down through sheer routine.
Why do it all over again?
Why (I might wonder on my worst days) do I even bother to get out of bed?
The answer, Pope Francis knows, is vocation. The answer is our “calling” – what we have received from the Lord, even if the memory of that call may have faded a bit from view.
And more important than the call, Pope Francis reminds us, is our companion for the journey. Our Co-laborer. Christ: the One to whom we are yoked.
When I read those words from Pope Francis, I think I began to understand more deeply why the man always seems to have a smile on his face. He’s got one of the toughest jobs in the world, but the burden is made easier…because he know exactly where to go find refreshment.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.