The past days have been ones of mounting resentment and anger. Resentment at a Government that makes working people pay for the avarice of builders and bankers; anger at the gross ineptitude of a government that cannot provide a proper health care system. Resentment at personally losing another €3,000 a year because the greed of millionaires has destabilized the economy; anger at watching a friend lying on a trolley in A & E this week.
Neither emotion is of any use; neither will make the slightest difference to the realities of life; both become heavy burdens when carried for too long.
Dr Billy Marshall reflected on Jesus words, “Come to me all who are heavy laden” at the Holy Week service this evening. “There are the burdens that are unavoidable”, he said, “and the burdens that are avoidable.”
The avoidable burdens are those we take upon ourselves. Pondering his words, anger and resentment must rank among the avoidable burdens.
He quoted from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the passage where Christian loses his heavy burdens through his encounter with the Cross
Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation. Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.
He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.
How much weight do I carry because of accumulated bitterness and grievances and annoyance and disappointments Christian becomes a new person in Pilgrim’s Progress when the burden he carries is loosed from his shoulders.
It does not mean that injustice is accepted; it does not mean turning a blind eye to the victims of an economic system that forgot common humanity; it does mean letting go of rancour and retaining a proper perspective.
The Cross is a reminder that builders and bankers have no monopoly of vice; a reminder that the release of burdens comes through the ultimate humility.
Bunyan goes on,
Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, “He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.” Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden.
‘Glad and lightsome’; only possible when the anger and resentment is released to roll away down the hill.