Is 40:25-31; Matt 11:28-30
The Gentle Mastery of Christ
Jesus mentions “yoke” and “rest” in this gospel. He says: “…I will give you rest,” and “Take my yoke….for my yoke is easy.” What kind of rest and yoke does Jesus have in mind for us? And how can they be good for us? In Greek, the word ‘rest’ suggests renewal and refreshment or well-fitting. Rest does not promise that the burdens will go way or we will not be weary again. But to have rest with Him promises us renewal and refreshment in this journey of life.
On the other hand, the word ‘yoke’ is a curved piece of wood called ‘ol which is fitted on the neck of oxen for the purpose of binding to them the traces by which they might draw the plough and others, (e.g. Num. 19:2). In Hebrew, this word is also used figuratively to refer to severe bondage, affliction, subjection, submission, discipline, duty and obedience (e.g. Lev. 26:13). They spoke of the yoke of the law, of the commandments, of the kingdom, of God. But it also speaks of freedom and life; of submission to God. In the New Testament the word ‘yoke’ is also used to denote servitude (e.g. Matt. 11:29, 30).
Jesus invites us to come to Him because His yoke is “easy” and His “burden light”. It is because He offers us a new kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy. 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. The yoke of Christ’s kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and from the oppression of sin and hurtful desires.
And so, let us accept Jesus’ invitation to come to Him, to have a coffee-break with Him, to have spiritual refreshment with Him or have divine snacks with Him, if we are weary and find life burdensome. Accepting this invitation does not mean that we will no longer have difficulties and trials. But Jesus gives meaning to all the different burdens that we carry; guiding and helping us. With Him, we can face any challenge because He is in our side and giving us strength; gives us redirection of our life and consolation from all forms of burdensome. We should never reject His invitation because He can understand us and have experienced what we have undergone in life. Vatican II reminds us of this truth: “By His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, he thought with human mind, acted by human choice and loved with human heart,” (Gaudium et Spes no. 22).
This word of invitation of Jesus is a beautiful message for each one of us during this Advent season especially that many of us are busy with nonessentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds. I read this story about Satan’s angel who asked Satan on what to do with human beings to steal their time away from God. Satan answered: “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then, borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10-12 hrs a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.”
And so, it’s good and wise to pause for a moment and spend time with the Lord and have spiritual refreshment with Him. And then ask ourselves, ‘what is my attitude toward hardships?’