Jesus‘ yoke gives rest
Readings: Zech 9,910; Ps 145, 1-2.10-11-13cd-14; Rom 8, 9.11-13; Mt 11, 25-30
The Word of God on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time A invites us to be attentive the voice of Jesus, the giver of true peace and fulfillment. It may appear to be a contradiction that we are invited to take on a yoke when in our daily lives we are shouldering burdens of different kinds. In order to accept the message of Jesus we ought to adopt the attitude of the little ones to whom God has chosen to reveal His wisdom. He invites us to let go of the burden of our old patterns of life in order to embrace a life of freedom.
The burden of the Law
Moses, the meekest man on earth (Nm 12, 3) and a friend of God (Ex 34, 12.17) gave the people of Israel the yoke of the Law. The Law that Moses gave was meant to seal the covenant that characterizes God’s relationship with the people. It gave guidelines for a life in freedom. This Law was meant to be joy for God’s people, showing them the path to meaningful life. It was an escape from sin, a true instrument of liberation. The Pharisees and Scribes, however, resisted Jesus’ invitation to receive newness of life. They were caught up in their pride on account of their knowledge of Scripture and the Jewish tradition of the Mosaic Law. They were accorded power due to this their privileged position. This power corrupted them. Jesus speaks of them: “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; and so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but themselves will not move them with their finger” (Mt 23, 2-3). Through their scrupulous interpretation of the Law the “wise” and “learned” manipulated and added so much to the Law that it became a crushing burden on the very people it was meant to set free. Jesus has come as the new Moses to inaugurate a new relationship with God which is based on love. The Father wills to reveal this to the “little ones”. This calls for humility and readiness to depend entirely on God. Jesus intends to share His intimate knowledge of God with all: “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 yourselves, for my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11, 28). In Jesus’ time religion didn’t bring people to a relationship with God. Instead it left them with a heavy burden and many times with a wrong image of God. Jesus wants to change this. He takes the burden of sin away and gives us His own yoke.
Is Jesus’ yoke really light?
Let us remember that last Sunday’s Gospel presented Jesus inviting His followers to carry their own crosses and follow Him. Many times these crosses are very heavy. Look into your own life and see the nature of the crosses you are carrying: sickness, poverty, disappointments because of broken relationships, hatred, grudge and so on. By offering us His yoke, Jesus wishes to form communion with us sojourners. A yoke always forms communion just like a farmer yokes an animal to a plough and together they dig up the ground. Normally two oxen are yoked to one another so that they share the burden of work. When we take on the yoke of Jesus, we discover exactly what God’s law of love is for us. In order to live and to show love, Jesus emptied himself and accepted to shoulder the yoke of humanity with us, so that we may learn from him how to be human. In all our struggles and troubles we ought to know that we are not alone. Carrying this yoke requires self-denial but it is easy and the burden of the lifestyle He calls us to is light because we share it with Him. Life becomes hard and heavy because many times we want to carry the crosses of life without Jesus. Jesus Himself, on His way to Calvary, accepted the help of Simon of Cyrene. After accepting Jesus to carry the heavier part of our yokes, we can also help others to carry theirs. Let us yoke ourselves to Jesus. The covid-19 pandemic has proved itself to be a burden for the whole of humanity. Let us all heed to the invitation of Christ and search for a solution from Him. We need Christ’s wisdom more than the advice of the “wise” scientists and the strategies “learned” politicians. May the solidarity and communion lived in this time of crisis continue to characterize our readiness to carry one another’s burden! Let us not allow anybody’s life become a burden!
Restlessness in life
The word of God speaks to us in our concrete reality. The world is restless. Many are looking for meaning, fulfillment and peace in life. Some are looking for it through detachment from riches and pleasures whereas others hope for happiness by way of affluence and abundance. There are many offers made in order to bring human beings to peace. These many a times are instant happiness-promises. They may bring some apparent satisfaction at the beginning, but in the long run they lead to deeper emptiness. Quick-fix answers usually come from the superficiality of certain doctrines made in order to attract followers. The question that we all ought to ask ourselves is: Who gives me/us lasting peace and happiness? Today’s Gospel is asking us: Have you tried the rest in your varied search attempts and you never got the satisfaction you needed? Then try the best: Jesus!
Cast your burdens unto the Lord
The people of Israel made the experience of dependence on God who guaranteed their existence. Psalm 55 invites us to cast our burdens upon the Lord and He will sustain us (Ps 55, 22). St. Peter, in his first letter speaks out the same: “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” (1Pt 5, 7). On the journey of faith we must learn from Jesus. In today's first reading, the prophet Zechariah has shown us what we are to learn, namely, humility. In order to understand the message of this invitation we ought to listen carefully to the prophet Zechariah in today’s first reading. He presents the king coming to restore the kingdom of David as one who is a just Savior, meek and riding on an ass and not on a warrior’s horse like many powerful rulers of the world. These come as liberators but in the course of time end up being oppressors with the burden of the laws they impose on people. Jesus is the humble Messiah who invites us to learn from him. We need humility in order to accept the invitation of Jesus. Authentic followers of Jesus are child-like, for they are aware of their powerlessness and dependence. St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans (second reading) speaks about the practical consequence of those who have found rest in Christ. The rest that Jesus offers is rest from the weight of sin. The Spirit of God living in us frees us from the power of the flesh and its addictive desires. The yoke of Jesus implies, thus, mortification which means crucifying our disordered desires so that we can really be at peace and have true rest. Are you carrying a load of anxieties, worries, disappointments and sins? You know where to deposit them. Jesus is calling you to himself. Come the way you are. Surrender all to Him and enjoy the peace He offers!