Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is easier to do good than it is to do evil. It is a lie of the evil one that it is easier to give up to his temptations. But there are two ways to do good, one way is on our own and the other way is with God. Since something broke when humanity fell in paradise, and again when we fell personally for the first time (I.e. when we commit our first sin), things do not work correctly as they should and thus it is extremely difficult to do good deeds on our own. Even when we do good, it is often done for the wrong reasons. We may want the praise of others, to look good in the eye's of others. But in this Saturday's Gospel, according to Apostle Matthew, it explains how we are to do good the correct way, the way to do good that is much easier.
When two oxen are yoked together and then put to work then both creatures share the burden. A yoke, as you may know, is a wooden wooden crossbeam that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. Thus the work is easier for both animals as they share the burden.
The Lord says in Saturday's Gospel according to Matthew, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." If we are yoked together with Christ, then the burden is very light indeed. Being yoked with Christ is like having two engines in your car, one taken from a high performance sports car and the other perhaps a simple four cylinder engine with no fancy features. One engine is clearly more powerful than the other. It is the same with Christ, when we are yoked to Him and to Him alone we give the glory, then amazing things happen. When we try to do everything on our own, egotistically and self-centered, then we remove the yoke from Christ and it is lopsided and we are unprepared to deal, in a spiritually healthy manner, many circumstances that come our way.
How do we yoke ourselves to Christ? We are yoked to Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. How then do we work with Christ wth in this context of being yoked to Christ in Baptism? By continual participation in the Sacraments and then living the ascetical life. The ascetical life is the keeping of the commandments of Christ. The Greek word ἄσκησις means exercise. We spiritually exercise by doing good (prayer, fasting, giving of alms and doing good for others) but we receive the Grace, the Power to do so by our participation in the Sacraments.
Another way of looking at things is like having a drill that isn't plugged into an electrical socket. Trying to get work done with that drill is pretty much impossible, unless it is plugged in. It is the same with us, we need to be plugged into Christ. If we are yoked to Christ, who is the God who created all things, then nothing is impossible if we work with Him, then we are continually connected to His inexhaustible Grace, His Uncreated Energies that power our souls and heal them to do good.
May Christ heal us so that we work with Him for our salvation and the salvation of others!
Fr. Simeon Pardalis, FrSimeon@StNicholasTarpon.org