Do you feel burdened?
The writers of our epistle and gospel want to know.
“You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God,” Paul says.
Jesus speaks of the scribes and Pharisees, saying, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.”
What is the difference between the two? What separates those in the Beloved Community who impose burdens on others, and those who remove them?
The topic of burdens is important throughout the Bible.
Paul tells us in the Letter to the Galatians, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.”
Jesus himself says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
We all know what it is like to feel burdened by life.
Every single person we know is bearing a burden of some kind, some seen, some unseen. Cancer, financial hardship, caregiving for an elderly parent, a child struggling in school, addiction—the burdens add up and weigh us down.
And we all feel the collective burdens of lives lost or altered in natural disasters, mass shootings, and the global struggles of poverty and disease.
It’s no surprise that the bearing of burdens shows up all over scripture.
And in our texts for today we have the contrast between how Paul is trying to relate to his spiritual community, and how the scribes and Pharisees are.
What differentiates the two? Continue reading