Zech 9:9-10; Rom 8:9, 11-13; Matt 11:25-30
“Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke…for my yoke is easy.” This passage is taken from today’s gospel.
The image of yoke in the Old Testament (Jer 2:20) referred to the Law of Moses, written or oral. What Jesus was opposing here is the legalistic interpretation by the Pharisees. That is why Jesus said: “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.”
What are our burdens? We feel burdensome due to some demands and expectations from others. Like for example: burdens of responsibility that comes with being a parent, a teacher, a manager and a leader. The burden of being handicapped, sick, widowed and separated. The burden of in looking after others like taking care of a retarded child, a crippled spouse or for many Filipinos, senile parents and burdens from hard works.
But the question now is, in what way do we respond or persevere or deal with these burdens which are parts of our lives? According to Boots Anson-Roa, when Ali Sotto and Arnel Ignacio interviewed her, sometimes in the 90s, in Katok Mga Misis, a GMA television program, on what is her secret why up to now she is still in show business and still an actress. Her answer was: “Pakikisama even to the littlest ones. The persons that you meet on your way up are the same persons that you meet on your way down.”
Fr. Marlone Ramirez, SVD had a very beautiful reflection on this gospel that one day in the parish, a young Moslem boy approached him for baptism to the Catholic faith. For this boy this boy this was a difficult decision to make. This boy knew that concomitant to becoming a Christian was the risk of being rejected by the community. The parish that Fr. Ramirez was serving is 99% Moslem. This Moslem disposition gave him the courage to face new challenges in his life. After a year of intensive preparation he was baptized on an Easter Sunday.
Fr. Ramirez continued that daily we are all invited by the Lord to take upon ourselves the yoke or the burden of discipleship and to learn from Him. Apart from Him, our endeavors of doing the will of our God the Father is empty. Most of the time we find it hard to follow in his footsteps because we carry our own yoke carved and patterned after this world. We complain to God that it is too heavy. We fail to notice that this is our own choice, not the choice he is offering us. He is assuring us that his yoke is good and light. The one he offers is modeled after his gentleness and humility. We need to put our complete trust in him because he knows what is best for us.
If you ask me the way on how we can persevere and respond to these burdens, I will answer you in a form of story.
There was a group of mountain climbers took off to scale the heights of a volcano. After some hours of climbing they got about half way up and soon split up into three groups. They will all refreshing at a chalet.
One group was sorry it had undertaken such a strenuous trip filled with dangers and disproportionate to the expected enjoyment…so disheartened and tired, this group turned their back and went home.
The second group was happy it was here in the clear mountain air and with the sun tanning them. So they spread their limbs out on the mountain grass and heartily ate the tasty sandwiches they had brought along. Some broke out into song and breathed in the freedom of the heights. They were contented and happy right here. Why move on higher. So they stayed right there and did not continue to climb.
It was only in the third group of real mountain climbers who took off from the summit which they had kept before their eyes from the time they left that valley bottom. That was their goal and they relished tightening every muscle to attain it. But they arrived at the top and there they experienced what the others did not.
In other words, we deal our burdens in three different ways which each one of us belongs: The tired group or those who back out and making lied low. Life, for them, is meaningless if they go to the Church and get involve in. The second is the contented group or the half-baked Christians. We call them the sunshine-sunset group. The third is the enthusiasts group or those who work hard in order to attain the goal.
To what group do we belong?
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A