Coming to Jesus is the condition for finding relief.
All we need to do is choose to enter the sphere of his presence, and the unnatural pressures borne down upon us by both the world and ourselves begin to dissipate.
To the extent that we are far from Jesus, we are the source of our own greatest burdens: without him as Lord, we are in thrall to the tyranny of our passions and, therefore, susceptible to the world's manipulation and the influence of the Evil One. Without the all-consuming love of Jesus burning in our heart as pure transforming fire, the passions roam the landscape of the soul like ravenous orphans. Then, as the Pseudo-Macarius states, we are like a man invited to the banquet of life, where countless fine dishes are set before us. Lacking the taste for the one delight that alone matters, we feel we have to sate ourselves from every dish. And in this manner the self-indulgent soul becomes weighed down, for to live subject to the passions is to bear the weight of heavy mountains."
Jesus, whose name means "Savior," is by definition the source of relief from all oppression, whether self-generated or imposed on us from without. The toil of living, abstracted from the compassionate power of God, only bears fruits of dejection and despair.... As long as man is trying to impress God with his own heroics, the heavens will remain shut. When will we understand that God wants nothing at all from us, not even virtue? In a Christian sense, the opposite of vice is not "virtue" in its usual meaning of a self-developed and admirable personal attribute. The opposite of vice in the Christian soul is not virtue but the power of Christ living within us.
Father Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis. "Coming to Jesus." excerpt from Fire of Mercy: Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew Vol. 1 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996).
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Ignatius Press.
Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Theology from Emory University. His areas of interest include liturgy and liturgical texts, Georg Trakl's poetry, the Gospel of Matthew, French and German poetry of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Greek and Roman classics, and Dante. He is the author of Fire of Mercy: Heart of the Word, a two-volume commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Love's Sacred Order: The Four Loves Revisited, and The Way of the Disciple. He has also translated numerous works for Ignatius Press.Copyright © 1996 Ignatius Press
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