EASY YOKE AND LIGHT BURDEN
(A biblical reflection on the 14th Ordinary Sunday [Year A], 9 July 2017)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:25-30
First Reading: Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalms: Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14, Second Reading: Romans 8:9,11-13
The Scripture Text
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was Thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30 RSV)
Many of Jesus’ parables are about fishing, farming and herding because those were the three most common occupations in His day. The parable in today’s Gospel reading is aimed at getting the attention of the farmers in Jesus’ audience.
In this parable, Jesus says we should take His yoke upon our shoulders and learn from Him. A yoke, a type of harness a farmer uses to attach a couple of oxen to a plow or a wagon, looks like the McDonald’s golden arches over the shoulders of the two animals. With the yoke attached, the oxen share the burden of pulling the plow or the wagon.
If one of the oxen is old or sickly, the other ox has to work harder. Sometimes the farmer will team a young ox with an older, more experienced ox so the younger one will learn from the older one how to pull the yoke. Until the younger one gets the hang of it the older ox must do most of the work.
When Jesus says we should take His yoke and learn from Him, He is offering to share our burdens with us With Jesus helping us, our burden will be light and easy to pull. Just as the two oxen work side by side, Jesus is willing to walk beside us and help us as we travel through life. We do not have to face life’s problems all by ourselves.
Because our society values independence, most of us want to prove we can succeed on our own. This pride not only drives us further from each other, but it also drives us further from our God. In our obsession to do it by ourselves, we shut out all help from everyone else, even help from Jesus.
Maybe that’s why Jesus praises the Father for taking what was hidden from learned and the clever, and revealing it to the children. The learned and the clever are those who are those who are self-sufficient and less likely to accept Jesus’ help because they’d rather try to succeed on their own. Children, on the other hand, have no problem with being dependent on others. They are accustomed to looking around for assistance and are therefore more likely to turn to Jesus in their moment of need.
(Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A,B, and C.)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I confess that without You, I am really nothing. I am grateful, however, that You are always present to help me. And,Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. May the Spirit who dwells in You dwell also in me, and lead me to love and trust the Father as You do. Amen.
Jakarta, 7 July 2017
A Christian Pilgrim