Yokes

Oxen from "The First Harvest"
A crop from “The First Harvest” by Canadian painter J. D. Kelly.

Day Five. A daily Mass and a Rosary do make all the difference. Thank You, Lord, and thank you, Blessed Mother.

At the times when I’ve been at the lowest in my addiction, when I have felt the most out of control, I have had the distinct feeling that my lusts were driving me, not I pursuing my lusts — that I was just a beast of burden, bearing the yoke of my oppression, drawing behind me all the pain and anguish and baggage that was weighing me down, bleating unhappily, but unable to stop.

Other times, when I’ve been most tempted, I have heard the Prince of Lies beckon to me: “Won’t you come back to the yoke? Its embrace is so comforting and inviting and secure. You know you miss its weight; miss the freedom it gives you to pursue your desires. You know you are weary; tired of holding back your passions, tired of standing without relief. Won’t you stop kicking against the goads, obey your flesh, and return to where you belong?” And it has been so inviting. I’ve felt like an obedient dog, returning to his master to have the collar placed back on his neck. It does feel like such a relief to let go; to lay down the fight; to give myself up to my natural inclinations and let the flesh take control.

But Christ offers a yoke also:

“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 your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

The very idea of taking on a yoke is one of submission and subservience: of laying down my self to another’s will. But paradoxically, it is only in taking Christ’s yoke — in becoming His slave — that I find true freedom. It is only in losing myself that I find myself. It is only in taking up my cross and following Him, in submitting to and sharing in His death, that I gain life (Matthew 16:24-28, 2 Corinthians 4:7-12).

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