In many ways Christianity can be seen as a sort of paradox. And its effects on the souls of men are best embodied by people like St. Lawrence, a martyred Deacon who told his captors to “turn him over” as they grilled him alive. Christianity is always best manifested when its faithful members have internalized their beliefs to the degree that they can mock the world and the peace it offers.
Recall our history. Our early members were among those meeting lions in the Colosseum armed only with faith. And our present ones clash daily with a culture that inundates us with all that is antithetical to our beliefs. We are called close-minded, and our own government sometimes attempts to prevent us from practicing our faith. Nonetheless our Bishops carry us forward, back into the Colosseum, where we again confront people who oppose our beliefs.
These members of the early church, who “walked by faith and not by sight,” had only the light of faith to illuminate their way. Which of the apostles on Good Friday knew the glory that was to come on Easter Sunday? Did our martyrs go to their death knowing the profound effect of their witness? And yet God is a sort of master chess player, bringing order out of chaos and love out of hatred. Consider the Roman soldiers who tortured Jesus on his path to Calvary. God uses even the most violent of men to bring peace to the world. With our faith there is always assurance; there is always hope.
And although our faith may be a sort of paradox, its truth is also seen quite clearly in each person’s path to holiness. This is why we understand and believe Jesus when He tells us “[His] yoke is easy, and [His] burden light.” Even under the seemingly heavy burden of the cross, we still find rest in our encounter with the Lord. On the heels of Holy Week, it’s applicable to say that we are all Simon of Cyrene, helping Christ carry His cross as we ourselves all venture to Calvary. And we are all Mary Magdalene, discovering in the empty tomb that Jesus is risen and experiencing daily the sacramental graces flowing from this reality.
So we enter Easter season swimming upstream in the world’s many currents. Amidst our struggles we notice the now light weight of the cross, which has been conquered. In living out our faith we like St. Lawrence mock the world while embracing the peace that God gives us. We hold fast to a faith experienced so powerfully during Holy Week. And we move forward as a Church of resurrection with trust in our God. As it turns out Jesus was right. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
By Ryan Bilodeau