Christ Helps Us Bear Our Yoke

First Reading: 1 Is 26:7-9, 12, 16-19

Psalm: 102:13-14ab, 15, 16-18, 19-21

Gospel: Mt 11:28-30

A good teacher knows how to command attention and adopts various techniques when the students’ concentration wanes. Jesus is no exception. The good teacher that Jesus is, using paradox, he describes the yoke of his Gospel as easy and his burden as light. Unaccustomed as we are to pairing off these particular nouns and adjectives, we are jolted into stopping and reflecting.

Jesus will never abandon us. He knows that our lives are demanding and fretful, filled with anxieties about work, housing, relationships, money, etc. As a result, we may have difficulty absorbing the nourishment of prayer, scripture reading and the sacraments. People can be like pieces of rubber bands stretched to their utmost limits one day, then the next day in a state of collapse.

Jesus’ yoke is a whole way of life – a discipleship, and a relationship with him. He demands of us willing service to the Gospel, but rewards us with friendship and love. Our part of the bargain is a twofold pledge: to model our lives on his and to enter wholeheartedly into relationship with him.

The image of the yoke calls to mind two oxen ploughing a field side by side, in step with one another. Jesus walks by our side. Because he shares our burden, he befriends us on our journey through life and invites us to rest with him at the end of the day. We are made in the image of a hard-working God who labors to create the world and who works with us to sustain it. He rests with us as we renew our energies.

Discipleship and trust are key qualities that are needed. Enthusiasm for the Lord can see us through the ups and downs of life. It can help us focus and fill us with the light of his grace. The conviction that Jesus is by our side can calm our fears and encourages us to take the spiritual rest that we all need for a healthy and balanced life as we journey on the difficult road of life. Let us always be aware of Jesus by our side, not just lifting or removing but sharing our burdens, and
helping us to bear with joy the yoke of discipleship.