Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel Mt 11:28-30
“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.”
Life was not easy for people in the first century. It especially was not easy for many of the people that listened to Jesus as he preached.If they were farmers, they were at the mercy of God for for all of the natural world components of farming ;Weather, insects and the like.They were at the mercy of the Government to leave these farmers some of the fruits of their labor to survive on. Society was constructed to benefit the few at the expense of the many; and the majority of the masses barely got by. They labored and were burdened. They labored at their livelihoods, more often that not which was back breaking labor for a marginal existence. They were burdened by societies strict laws, social biases, taxes and a social hierarchy that was determined to keep them at the bottom.
When Jesus said “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,and I will give you rest.” he must have attracted quite a crowd. the burdened and labored made up 95% of the population. I wonder though if they understood first the extent of their burdens and why they were carrying them. I wonder if they realized what they were required to do. How much of their burden was contrived, or fabricated with the sole purpose of wearing them down?How many of societies laws were to keep them oppressed. How many stigmas, or cultural taboos served no purpose. Were their burdens and labors imposed on them by god to test their loyalty, or were they imposed by man to make them fear God?
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” Jesus asks them to take his yoke. His Yoke. A yoke is a fitted wooded cradle or beam placed between two animals to help them carry a load. It does not lessen the load, it makes it easy to carry: and people were carrying a lot ! But the question becomes how does this yoke make their burden easier, and what does it look like? Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.How does it lessen the burden? the burden is lessened through Jesus’s teaching. Christ challenged the society that burdened. Jesus redistributed the load and put relationships back in their proper order.. Certainly their load would begin at the same point, but through that yoke it would first be tolerable and second it would be diminished. God does not place burdens, or labors on man that man can not handle: man does that. What does this Yoke look like? It has two beams one horizontal and one vertical. The horizontal beam distributes the load from man to man and the vertical corrects the load from man to God.“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” is the vertical beam of his yoke and”Love your neighbor as yourself” is its horizontal. With this yoke, the cross of Christ, there is nothing you cant carry.. .