Jesus said: “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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
After a long day on the job, with our families, and responding to tough issues, life can seem awfully burdensome so burdensome, in fact, that Jesus’ invitation seems unrealistic. How can he say taking on his yoke will give me rest? Don’t I have enough “yokes” already? There never seem to be enough hours in the day to catch up on all my responsibilities.
Then add to the demands of everyday life our more long-term fears and the anxieties that we may carry about the future: Will my kids turn out okay? What if I lose my job? Can I make a difference in the world? If you put it all together, the weight of living in this world can seem burdensome indeed!
Jesus never said that our lives would be easy all the time. On the contrary, he promised that we would be persecuted, and that some of us may even be killed for our faith. But what Jesus did promise is that he would always be with us. He told us not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear. Why? Because we can trust that he and his Father in heaven will never abandon us. Of course we have to work and quite often work hard but never all by ourselves. He is right there with us, offering us his wisdom, his guidance, even his divine strength and power.
How can we be sure that Jesus’ promise is for real? How can we know that his yoke is easy and his burden light? Because Jesus has already walked our path. A man like us in all things but sin, he knows our fears and desires, our hopes and dreams. Simply by coming in the flesh, he has bound himself to us eternally. As we let go of the thoughts that tell us that we are left all alone in this world and reach out to Jesus, we will find our burdens becoming lighter and lighter simply because we will be trusting in him and depending on his faithfulness.
Jesus wants to come to each of us today. He wants us to hear, deep within our inner being, words like these. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Know that I am with you, and I will give you hope. Don’t complain. Just come to me and talk to me. Give everything to me, even suffering. I am the only one who can change it. I will strengthen you, and lighten your burden if it is too heavy.”
“Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the giver of all good gifts. I proclaim that you have a perfect plan for my life. I give you my old heart and ask you to exchange it for a heart that burns with love for you. Help me, Lord, to lay down my yoke and to take up yours instead. Jesus, I trust in you!”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt the July 20 meditation from the July 2006 issue of their magazine. Used with permission.
(Maurice Blumberg is Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men. This article is part of NFCM's sponsorship of the Catholic Man channel. Contact NFCM at P.O. Box 86381, Gaithersburg, MD 20886 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to make a contribution to the NFCM, just click here.)
Reflection Questions on Page 2
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Do you think Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden light? Explain your answer.
2. What role does faith and trust in Jesus’ great love for us play in lightening our everyday burdens?
3. When a difficult situation arises during the day, how often do you turn to Jesus for wisdom and guidance? What prevents you from doing this more often? How can you change that?
4. What situations that you are wrestling with now can make your life feel burdensome? If you are in a men’s group, ask the men to pray with you for those situations. Share the fruit of these prayers at a future meeting.