The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
What kind of yoke does the Lord Jesus have in mind for each one of us? And how can it be good for us? The Jewish people used the image of a yoke to express their submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of God. Jesus says his yoke is “easy”. The Greek word for “easy” can also mean “well-fitting”. Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well for labor. We are commanded to put on the “sweet yoke of Jesus” and to live the “heavenly way of life and happiness”. Oxen were yoked two by two. Jesus invites each one of us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with him, our will with his will, our heart with his heart.
Jesus carries our burdens with us
Jesus also says his “burden is light”. There’s a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. “That’s a heavy load you are carrying there,” exclaimed the man. “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother!” responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it’s given in love and carried in love. When we yoke our lives with Jesus, he also carries our burdens with us and gives us his strength to follow in his way of love. Do you know the joy of resting in Jesus’ presence and walking daily with him along the path he has for you?
In the Advent season we celebrate the coming of the Messiah King who ushers in the reign of God. The prophets foretold that the Messiah would establish God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. Those who put their trust in God and in the coming of his kingdom receive the blessings of that kingdom – peace with God and strength for living his way of love, truth, and holiness (Isaiah 40). Jesus fulfills all the Messianic hopes and promises of God’s kingdom. That is why he taught his disciples to pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one.
Freed from the burden of sin and guilt
The yoke of Christ’s kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and disobedience. Only the Lord Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a yoke of glory, freedom, and joy with him. The yoke which the Lord Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of power and freedom to live in love, peace, and joy as God’s sons and daughters. Do you trust in God’s love and truth and submit to his will for your life?
“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with love for you and for your ways and help me to exchange the yoke of rebellion for the sweet yoke of submission to your holy and loving word. Set me free from the folly of my own sinful ignorance and rebellious pride that I may wholly desire what is good and in accord with your will.”
The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
RESTING WITH THE YOKE ON
“Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me.” —Matthew 11:29
Because God doesn’t grow weary (Is 40:28), and because we belong to God (Rm 14:7-8) and abide in God (Jn 15:4), His Word assures us that we won’t grow weary when we do His will (Is 40:29). God gives us strength as we bear the burden we are meant to bear, which is His yoke (Mt 11:29). The strength we need, and the rest we need, comes as we do His will.
Jesus came to remove the oppressive yoke of our sins, which burdens and weighs us down. He replaces that sinful yoke with His yoke, what He terms “My burden” (Mt 11:30). Jesus shares the yoke with us (and does most of the work) and even calls our burden “His” burden. Thus we “find rest” in bearing the burdens of this yoke by coming to Jesus, Who is right beside us in the other loop of the yoke. We can’t physically distance ourselves from Him, since He is yoked right next to us. However, most married couples can appreciate that someone can be right next to you, yet a million miles away. Therefore, we find rest by coming to Jesus, Who is right next to us, with humility, gratitude, and our full attention.
We have a choice to make in bearing Jesus’ yoke. We can regard it as a cross to bear and “say, ‘What a burden!’ ” (Mal 1:13) In this mindset, we might be following Jesus, but complaining and grumbling like the Israelites in the desert (see Nm 14:2ff). Alternatively, we can come to Jesus (Mt 11:28), accept His strength and help, and willingly go wherever He takes us. If we do this, we will find rest _ right in the midst of bearing His burden.
Prayer: Father, may I always “strive to enter into [Your] rest” (Heb 4:11) and thus find Your strength. Promise: “He pardons all your iniquities, He heals all your ills.” —Ps 103:3 Praise: St. Juan Diego’s humble obedience conquered the New World more than all the conquistadors combined. (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements