Manage episode 370822378 series 3023172
Bearing one another's burdens It's a beautiful principle. We would all agree. It's harder to carry out in practice. I've got my own burden to deal with. I don't have time or the energy for someone else's!
The reality of bearing one another's burdens becomes most real in a community like this. We don't get to choose who comes and goes. The stranger I see in front of me is supposed to be my neighbour, my brother or sister in Christ. If I want to make it as convenient as I can for myself, I can just ignore them or keep them at bay if they inconvenience me. But if I want to truly live out the calling to bear one another's burdens, then I can't do that. I have to live with them and journey with them side by side, no matter how different or difficult they are. It is a beautiful principle, but harder to live out in practice.
We learned that when we come to know Christ, our hearts of stone turn into hearts of flesh. Hearts of flesh make room for others. I reflected on this more. What allows us to make that room for others in our hearts?
Gentleness. When we meet Christ, we experience his gentle hands touching and softening our hardened hearts. Christ fills us with the spirit of gentleness so that we can extend the same grace to the people around us.
That is what St. Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. To a dogmatic and zealous individual, Christ appeared. But Christ didn't condemn him or punish him. He simply spoke to Paul in a gentle voice
Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 9:4)
Christ's soft and gentle touch was what broke Paul's hardened heart. It crushed him. But it changed him for good.
The life-changing journey that St. Paul went through was not that he was a bad person and then turned into a good person. He was hard-working and did good things. He was blameless under law. But until he met Christ, he knew nothing except himself. As long as he lived morally and rightly, that was all that mattered. Others who fell short of his standards, he condemned. Once he met Christ, he not only had to embrace his own shortcomings, but he had to make room in his heart to embrace the shortcomings of others as well.
In Christ, he found his calling to bear one another's burdens. With the spirit of gentleness he received, that's what he lived throughout his life. When things turned sour or bad, he didn't run away. When people attacked him, he didn't retaliate. No matter how difficult it was, he took time to understand them, care for them, and embrace them as Christ did. To the Galatians, he preached what he lived
My brothers and sisters, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1, 2)
Gentleness doesn't come from having sentimental feelings about the other person. Then we will never be gentle with our enemies. Gentleness comes from our concrete experience of Christ's love. Gentleness is the defining mark of a Christian. Gentleness is the fruit of the Spirit. Gentleness fulfills the law of Christ.
Let us begin each day by asking Christ to fill us with the spirit of gentleness. This is connected to yesterday's reflection on prayer. If anxiety and fear breed hostility and aggression in our hearts, with peace comes gentleness. There's the saying, Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. We never fully know what someone else is going through. But we are all dealing with our own burdens in life. No matter how they may seem on the outside, the other person is just as fragile and vulnerable like me. And I'm probably just as difficult as they are.
Instead of jumping to assumptions based on what we see on the surface, let us relate to each other with gentleness. With warmth, openness, sensitivity and care. With the help of the Spirit. We will then be able to bear one another's burdens. That is what it means to be a body of Christ.
Guided Prayer Time
Anything we say and do flows directly from our hearts. How we relate to others reflect what is going on in our hearts. To live in harmony, we need to bear one another's burdens. To bear one another's burdens, we need the spirit of gentleness. Let us ask God to mold our hearts as we begin today so that we may be gentle with those around us.