Heading into the July 4th weekend, countless Americans --with or without masks-- will celebrate as usual, attending fireworks displays, family BBQ's and other large gatherings. The impulse to breakout and be free is understandable, especially after several months of "sheltering in place" and having a restricted social life. Adults and children alike are anxious for a return to "normal" -- but such a return while the country is still in the grip of COVID-19 may come at a heavy price. What we have seen so far is that whenever states have "opened up" too soon, the numbers of infections and fatalities skyrocket. This is what is happening in Texas right now, with Houston's hospitals being completely overwhelmed. Nationwide, the death toll is close to 130,000, with 55,220 new diagnoses yesterday-- Thursday--alone.
These grim statistics call us to move beyond "having fun" and making political statements; rather, they demand an ethical response whereby we examine the impact our choices may have not only on our lives but on the lives of everyone around us. Horror stories abound. Take, for example, the groom in India who showed symptoms on his wedding day, and died two days later, having infected 80 of his guests; or, closer to home,
Bethany Slavic Missionary Church
near Sacramento, CA, which has been linked to at least 71 cases. Ethically speaking, the groom should have cancelled his wedding and gone to the hospital, while the mega-church should not have been open in the first place.
Mingling in crowds and not wearing masks is neither smart, patriotic nor ethical. Obviously, we cannot stay isolated indefinitely but we can limit our socializing to "safe" settings, taking every precaution when we venture out, whether to run an errand or visit friends. We owe it to ourselves and to all those with whom we come in contact.
A Safe & Happy Fourth of July!
PS Try my spiritual self-assessment tool!
After you take the Quiz, you will automatically receive a computer-generated diagram and explanatory comments regarding your strengths and "growing edges."
I hope you find the Quiz useful!
“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.”
MT 11: 25-30
Hearing the word
many people are likely to visualize its homonym,
-- the center of an egg. "Yoke" is not a common word any more, for, in the western world at least, it is tied to an outmoded agricultural practice of tilling the land with pairs of oxen, or using other draught animals for hauling heavy loads-- Clydesdale horses, for example. "Yoked" animals are bred for long days of heavy labor, often under harsh conditions. When Jesus invites the crowds to take his yoke upon themselves, he is offering them liberation from all that is oppressive -- possibly from Roman rule, and possibly from the hypocrisy of some of their religious leaders; in fact, he alludes to this hypocrisy in Matt 11:16-19 when he speaks of the hate-filled criticism that both he and John the Baptist have endured.
What does it mean for us, 2,000 years later, to take Jesus' yoke upon ourselves? When we apply this Gospel to our own lives, it seems that Jesus is inviting us to jettison all that reduces us to "beasts of burden" and to rest in him instead. "Meek and humble of heart," he is no slave driver; rather, he is more gentle towards us than we are to ourselves, offering peace instead of stress and hardship. He invites us to question our priorities, to remember who we are, so that we may breathe, pause, pray, be... As for all our exhaustion, worries, heartaches, disappointments, if we can turn them over to him, our load will lighten...
In contrast, the world's "yoke" chains us, ties us down, wearies us, demoralizes us, grieves us, angers us, makes us afraid. When the "world" takes over, we forget who we are and what our destiny is; we forget our creator and try to solve our own problems. This "yoke" binds us to the drive for money, the drive to succeed, the drive to belong, the drive for fame, the drive to compete, the drive for power, the drive to be liked, the drive to be on top... It oppresses us with a lethal combination of aspirations, personal needs and other people's expectations; it costs us sleep, health, relationships, happiness, and peace of heart.
As long as we fight and struggle alone, our burden is multiplied. We can cling to this burden and have it crush us, or we can release it. We can choose to live as slaves, or we can seek the liberation that comes from surrender to Christ -- the choice is ours.
- What are the heaviest burdens that you are presently carrying? Where did they come from and how are you coping?
- Are there any burdens that you can put down voluntarily and refuse to carry any more? What would happen if you were to do this? If this is impossible right now, can you come up with a plan of action for the future?
- How do your burdens affect your quality of life?
- How does your faith help you carry your burdens?
A NEW WEBSITE AND RESILIENCE QUIZ
Since so many people have lost their means of livelihood, I am offering life coaching to those dealing with career transitions. You can check out my
Resiliency Assessment Tool
on the home page of my new website:
FYI: My main websites remain