Thursday of the 14th Week of the Year

Matt 10:7-15

The Commissioning of the Twelve


The way Jesus sends His apostles is very radical. He gives a tall order not carry anything but to depend solely on God. They have to rely only on Jesus and focus their attention on their message, to cure the sick, raise the dead, heal the lepers, etc. this free gift received from Him has to be given freely in the name of service.

Peace is the greeting of the first missionaries. With the instructions ome a warning: if your peace is not received go outside the house and let your peace return to you. The mission of the first missionaries was not without difficulties, yet their reliance on God’s power kept them strong and confident as they announced the Kingdom. After experiencing God’s tender love, they were in turn messengers of God’s healing.

Can we say that we depend on God? Can it be said of us that we focus more on things other than the message? Do we depend too much on our resources and possessions that we lose our credibility? (SSpSAP Bible Diary 2002)


Do you have a vocation, a calling? Vocation, in Tagalog, is “Bukasyon.” ’Yong pinto bukas yon! ‘Yong bintana, bukas ‘yon.’ Be open to your calling, your mission in life. Do not close the door. Be open to where God is calling you.

Also, do not say: “Bukas yon” (that’s for tomorrow). Do not postpone your calling. Indeed, if today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

We are all disciples. We all have a mission. Your mission and mine is not to become rich, famous or successful in this world. Our mission is not to become somebody but to become a someone in this world. Are you a somebody or someone? (Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


In today’s gospel narrative we see Jesus giving his mission mandate to His first missionaries – the 12 apostles. The mandate: to go and proclaim the message that the Kingdom of God has come.

Then Jesus proceeds with clear instructions. In fact, the whole episode consists of instructions on what a missionary should do, some of which might trigger a question on our part. Take for instance: v. 5 where Jesus sounds stern in telling them not to go to the pagan territories and the Samaritan towns but only to the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus, being a man of his time, knew it was not yet the hour for his disciples to enter such places. The Samaritans were mortal enemies of the Jews and the pagans as a people were by far not ready to give up their multiple gods and accept the One God of Jesus. Likewise, the disciples, for their part, were not yet, personally equipped to handle such situations.

Jesus was God, but he allowed himself to be bound by history.

Another intriguing instruction is found in verses 9-10. In our present time no missionary goes out to her/his mission, no matter how near, without a purse/wallet with at least a small amount of money for emergency need. And if he/she stays on for more than a day, a traveling/overnight bag is necessary for extra clothing.

Perhaps we cannot take the words of the gospel literally. And yet, we do need to heed the inner, deeper message: the call to be totally at God’s disposal. Thus we need to be interiorly free from and unemcumbered by ‘securities’ that weigh us down.

Verse 14 implies that although the good news is to be preached to all and although Jesus offers salvation to everyone, it is not forced on anyone. God respects our freedom. But let us remember too that freedom carries with it tremendous responsibility. (Sr. Angelita, SSpS Bible Diary 2004).


The movie, “The Priest” shown some years back, is quite controversial. Some who watched it were scandalized. Their trust in priests were shaken, to say the least. I also watched it and was deeply touched.

This young priest, in all his human frailty, was sent by his bishop for pastoral work to a certain parish. He had his weakness under control, was eager to reach out and bring the love of God to the parishioners. What made him fall? The loneliness in the convent and especially the lack of support from the parishioners.

When Jesus sent out His apostles He did not send out supermen. He sent weak human beings. One of them would betray him, another would deny him and the rest would run away in the moment of danger. Jesus did not mind. He saw in them not what they were now but what they would become later.

Christ continues to send out, not supermen, but fragile human beings, as the young priest in the movie was one. He entrusts His message of peace and love to “earthen vessels,” easily cracked and even broken. Their mission is not easy, they have no time to waste to bring peace into the homes and communities they are sent to. The Lord even anticipates that they are not always accepted and speaks of a terrible threat over those who reject his messengers.

The rejection can be indirect, as the young priest in the movie experienced. It can be expressed by passivity, by indifference, by criticism. You may have seen that terrible T-shirt which says, “The priest is always wrong” and then enumerates so many criticisms Christ’s messengers have to hear, day and day out.

Christ does not send angels to you but humans. They are with you to care for you; they too need your support, your daily prayers that they remain strong in spite of their weaknesses. 9Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


Today’s gospel reading demonstrates how we, the Body of Christ, His continuation and extension through time and space, are to prolong his action by relieving pain in all its forms. To his apostles he says: Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and drive out demons”. His mandate is as comprehensive as can be.

Suffering with the sufferers is particularly difficult in our activistic age. Spiritual writer David Runcorn comments on this difficulty in his book Touch Wood. Meeting the Cross in the World Today. “One of the hardest things,” he says, “about sharing the sufferings of others is the feeling of helplessness. We long to be able to do something. We may have to face the question of whether our longing for a solution is more to satisfy the terror of our powerlessness. But if we accept our helplessness for what it is we become, in that moment, a fellow sufferer. Real caring begins in letting go of our need to be the ‘strong’ helping the ‘weak’ – for it is no such thing. For in the meeting of mutual pain and longing suffering itself may be a teacher” (pp. 82-83).

In other words, when we have no remedy, no solution, no cure to offer to a given situation of hardship, our mere presence is often the best help we can give. A quiet presence can be in itself a powerful source of healing. (From 365 Days 2007).


Frats snacks ka muna,” is the usual invitation from people we visit during our weekend apostolate in a squatter colony. Snacks consist of Magic Flakes (biscuits) and Sakto (200 ml Coke worth of 5 pesos). Again and always! But it is not the snack they serve really but the inner goodness to entertain visitors that is touching but at the same time embarrassing. To think that they are supposed to be rock-bottom poor!

It occurred to me that Magic flakes and Sakto might have a message. Behind Magic flakes and Sakto is the effort on their part to share. In sharing, there is magic, the wonder of camaraderie and friendship, a sign of God’s presence. Sharing is exactly (sakto) their faith-response to the providential love of God who never abandons them even in their condition. When I enter their houses, I don’t have anything. I may not be able to cure their sicknesses or liberate them from poverty, but perhaps I am someone who can listen to their woundedness. I don’t have the power to ease their pains. All I have is listening heart, all I have is presence. Hopefully, a presence that speaks of God.

The gospel for today speaks about presence, not just a mere presence but a presence full of God. Bringing God’s presence to others is also an invitation to prepare ourselves for rejection. Rejection might put us on the verge of losing hope, but we must hold on to our faith that God will always be there no matter what. Having a vibrant faith in loving God does not mean we will no longer walk through life’s apparent contradictions.

At the end of the day, it is not the silver that we bring, the tunic that clothes us, the sandals that protect our feet, but it is walking with Jesus that truly matters – owning His mission as our mission. That is exactly (sakto) where the real magic lies! (Frt. Ketchie a Barrantes, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


My second mission after ordination was in Zamboanga Sibugay Province, a new mission territory offered to the SVd Southern Province by the Bishop of the Prelature of Ipil. I volunteered to go there to experience parish work. Going there, I brought with me all personal belongings I accumulated during my three years stint in the seminary in Davao, only to find out that some of those things were not needed in the parish. I had to bring them home it was a waste of time and money. Likewise, in going to the interior, seaside and mountaintop Christian communities, I usually brought with me, aside from my Mass kit, personal belongings such as extra shirt, bottled water, blankets, mosquito nets and other important things all in one big bag. All these did not only make my travel heavy and slow but also were not used because the communities provided me with things I needed, far exceeding my expectations. These experiences made me realize my lack of trust in Divine Providence through the people I encountered and worked with. Those extra personal belongings I brought with me were symbolic of the inner baggage I brought with me: my mental, emotional and spiritual baggage. I failed to capitalize on Christ’s assurance that in His vineyard a laborer deserves his keep.

Jesus in today’s gospel tells His disciples, and likewise to us today, to travel light and focus our attention on his message so that everything else will fall into place. Christ’s and the Church’s great message of reconciliation and forgiveness is good news to a troubled and angry world. The gospel directs us to look at Christ as a model of reconciliation and forgiveness so we can move beyond the human models of armistices, peace treaties and reparations. For many of us bound by guilt, the question is not whether God will forgive us but whether we are willing to forgive ourselves by accepting His gift of reconciliation. We can always come home to Him whose arms are always waiting to receive us. Let’s look up to Jesus, for He is the model of a loving forgiveness that heals and makes us whole. (Fr. Jerry Perocho, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


HUMBLED BY OTHERS (Matt 11:29):  When you are honest and you know it, you thank God for it and acknowledge it. But when you are humble and you know it,, then you’ve lost it.

When we were in grade school, we were given so many awards by our teachers – awards for being helpful, diligent, and so many other things. One of the awards was a little ribbon, an award for being humble. I was not given that award. A classmate was given that award. But after a week, the ribbon was taken away from him because after wearing the ribbon, he lost his humility.

Humility does not mean that we always aspire for the lowest places. Humility does not mean we should ill-at-ease with the honors given to us.

Humility is actually the spirit of detachment. Even if we are given the best place in the party, we should not feel proud. In the same way, even if we are given the last place, we should not feel awkward or angry.

It is very easy to say, “I am nothing.” But after you say this, and you are indeed treated as nothing, then you say, “What about justice, fairness and human rights?” that is not humility.

It is very easy to say that I want to be taken for granted. We are humble not when we humble ourselves. We are humble, not when we tell everybody we are nothing.

We are humble when we tell everybody we are nothing and everybody treats us as nothing and we take it for Christ. (Socrates Villegas, Jesus Loves You, pp. 19-20)


July 19, 2012

St. Justa
Thursday of the 15th Week

Is 26:7-9, 12, 16-19
Ps 102
Mt 11:28-30

The Gentle Mastery of Christ

[Jesus said,] 28“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”


Meek and humble of heart. Meekness means gentleness. Jesus comes not to punish or condemn or burden us. He comes to lighten our burden, to comfort us in our affliction, and to console us in our sorrow. Being meek of heart, Jesus is always ready to accept us back and to forgive us.

Humble of heart means that Jesus is not lording it over us. He does not dominate or impose on or force us. In his humility, Jesus is not bitter, frustrated, or disappointed with our repeated falls into sin. He continues to understand and trust us. He is even inviting us to come to him and to learn to be like him.

Let us pattern our hearts after the heart of Jesus.

Our hearts must be pure. A pure heart will speak good words to people. A pure heart will not look for mistakes from them. A pure heart will not make excuses for one’s misgivings.

Our hearts must be clean. A clean heart will perform honest and worthy works. A clean heart is not insecure about someone’s popularity or success.

Our hearts must be full of love. A loving heart is always forgiving. It does not get tired of serving. A loving heart promotes and preserves life. It is always open to help and desires another’s healing. A loving heart works for the salvation of the beloved.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto yours.


In today’s gospel Jesus reveals his tender love for us. He invites us to come to him to be refreshed and find rest. He tells us that he is “gentle and humble of heart.” What a wonderful Lord we have! Let us look more closely at what he is saying to us.

First of all, he says: “Come to me.” It seems like a simple request, but very often it is exactly what we do not do. Sometimes it is when we need him the most that we are slow to go to him. We might be ashamed of our sinfulness. Or we might be very busy and feel that we do not have time for him just now. We might even be avoiding him because we are resisting what he seems to be doing in our lives. Jesus does not want us to let these things keep us away from him, however, He invites us, “Come to me.”

The second things Jesus says is: “Take my yoke.” He is telling us that we must take up our share of the cross. While we would all like an “easy life,” that is not always the way the Lord leads us. If we run away from suffering and from the cross, we are running away from Jesus. His “yoke” is a share in the suffering that he has undergone for us. Unless we share in his death to sin, we cannot have a share in his resurrection. We have to sacrifice our attachment to our sinful tendencies and our self-will. This is not easy for us. The process of purification can be very painful at times. Jesus invites us to walk through this process with him: “Take my yoke.”

Finally Jesus tells us: “Learn from me.” We need to sit at the Lord’s feet, as Mary did, and let him teach us his ways. We do not know how to live, how to love, how to come into union with God. We have to be taught by the Master. So Jesus says to us, “Learn from me.”

We all at times get weary and find life burdensome. We fell that we are struggling and working hard,  and perhaps we see little fruit from our efforts. The people in the first reading described. Such a condition in these words: “We conceived and writhed in pain, giving birth to wind; salvation we have not achieved for the earth, the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth.” At times like this, we need to hear the voice of Jesus inviting us again: “Come to me. Take my yoke. Learn from me.” Jesus is the answer. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let us turn once again to him and experience the refreshment his love brings to us.

What is my response when I feel burdened?  Do I seek the rest provided by the Lord’s heart? Do I believe that he will help me? Do I pursue exterior comforts? What are the “hardships” that are plaguing my spirit now? What am I going to about them? (Pondering the Word the Anawim Way – July 8, 2012 to August 25, 2012; July 19, 2012 pp. 63-64)


THURSDAY OF THE 15TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) – MATEO 11:28-30. Unsa may makapagaan sa yugo nga ipapas-an ni Kristo kanato? Una sa tanan, ang yugo ni Kristo sayon ug gaan tungod kay ang nagsugo kanato sa pagpas-an niini malumo man og kasingkasing; dili mapahitas-on ug dili masuk-anon. Ang Dios makasabot sa atong katakos; makamao siyang magpasensya kon kita maglisod; ug andam siya nga motabang kanato sa pagdala sa yugo kon kita mosangpit kaniya. Dugang pa niana, ang yugo ni Kristo sayon ug gaan tungod kay kini ipapas-an man uban sa gugma. Paalagaron kita nga mahigugmaon; pasimbahon kita sa kinasingkasing; ug patabangon kita nga dili mag-apas og bayad. Ang trabaho ug kasugoan nga tumanon uban sa gugma mahimo nga sayon ug gaan. Kon walay gugma, ang tanan lisod ug kapoy nga buhaton. Posted by Abet Uy


My Reflection for Thursday July 17, Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time; Matthew 11:28-30 – Reflection: There’s a story of a man who would always drink to kingdom come whenever he has problems. After his drunk already he would disturb the peace of his family, he would verbally abuse his wife and his children and blame them for all his miseries. This story is a reality of life and many of us do this, but what can we get from this temporal escape? We only further mire ourselves with problem until our problems takes control of us.

In our gospel for today Jesus gives us a foolproof assurance, HE tells us: “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 (Matthew 11:28-30).”

But there are many who know Jesus but they don’t have that personal intimacy with Jesus yet.  What are we going to do about this? Of course we must help, we must bring them closer to Jesus. For example why don’t we bring them to Holy Mass? Why don’t we open to them the healing words of Jesus in the bible? Why don’t we bring them to the Adoration chapel to be with Jesus even for only a short while initially?

The gospel message of Jesus is always alive and it always speaks to us. Perhaps Jesus is telling us today, since you know me and have that intimacy with me already. What I want you to do is to introduce me to those who do not know me fully well yet or to those who do not know me yet. So that whenever they are burdened and being enslaved by the many worries of this world.  They will not look for temporal solutions in this world. They instead will directly go to me and find hope, healing and rest in me.

Are we up to this challenge of Jesus?  Posted by: Marino J. Dasmarinas


NEW PURPOSE FOR WRITING: Let this be written for the next generation, for a people not yet born, that they may praise the Lord. – Psalm 102:19

I was reading my husband’s Purpose-Driven Life Journal years ago when I first came across this Bible verse. I felt my heart leap as I read the verse. I felt God stir my soul to help me discover a new purpose for writing.

I have always loved to write about my experiences, especially about the many wonderful things that the Lord has done in my life. I write to express my love for God. I write to express my joy and gratitude for the blessings I have received. I write to connect and share a piece of my heart, mind and soul with the people I love. Eventually, I learned to share what I write even with strangers after discovering that my reflections help bring others closer to God.

That night, when God led me to meditate on this verse, He gave me an additional reason to write. Thus, from that time on, leaving something behind for my children and grandchildren to read — something that would recount to our family’s next generations of how blessed we have been because of our God — has become one of my motivations to write. Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag (

Reflection: Do you take time to write about God’s blessings and reflections? How can you make time for this?

Lord, may Your Name be glorified as I write and share about what You have done in my life.


1ST READING: The people know they have sinned and are suffering the consequences of their choices. God does not punish the sinner — the sin and its effects are enough punishment. However, God can and does use the effects of sin to motivate us to be more faithful in the future. We should always be attentive to any lessons we can learn as a result of our sins. Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19

GOSPEL: Jesus wants to be with us when we rejoice; He wants to share our burdens when we are in trial. We should never be afraid to go to Jesus with our problems. There is no magic fix to any of them but at the very least we will have someone to share the load with us. Matthew 11:28-30

think:  Jesus wants to be with us when we rejoice; He wants to share our burdens when we are in trial.


A SMOOTH RIDE WITH THE LORD: Today’s First Reading from the prophet Isaiah opens with the words, “The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just you make level.” The Gospel has a similar thought, even if it uses a different imagery, when it concludes with Jesus’ words, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Whether one speaks of smoothness or lightness, or of ease and gentleness, this is assured by Jesus to the just man. It is His declaration that His teachings and demands are not easy, in the sense that it is disposable and automatic, and its fulfillment is unexacting and effortless. Rather, it is easy in the sense that it is manageable for the one who disposes himself in humility and docility before God. It is, in fact, still a burden; but far from weighing us down, it is actually what gives life its true meaning and fulfillment.

And so, let us cheer up! If our faith and spiritual life only makes us sourfaced, apathetic and grumpy, there’s something wrong. Or, more probably, we have got it all wrong. Most likely, we haven’t grasped yet the Good News of our Lord Jesus.

Remember: it’s Good News — and it’s supposed to make our paths smooth and level. Even if the ride will have to be bumpy at times, Jesus, our Friend and Brother, is just there on our side. He accompanies us in our journey and, together with Him, there’s nothing that is unbearable. Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB

REFLECTION QUESTION: What fears do you have in following the Lord?

Lord Jesus, I believe in Your promise — that You will always be with me. Help me to hang on to that promise always, especially in difficult times.


Weary of Heart

July 16, 2015 (readings)

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Father Shawn Aaron, LC

Matthew 11: 28-30

Jesus said: “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 your selves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

Introductory Prayer: Almighty and ever-living God, I seek new strength from the courage of Christ our shepherd. I believe in you, I hope in you, and I seek to love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. I want to be led one day to join the saints in heaven, where your Son Jesus Christ lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Petition: Lord Jesus, meek and humble of heart, help me to take on your yoke.

  1. Come to Me:If you struggle daily to do what is morally right even when those around you take shortcuts, then come to Jesus. If the life of selfish pleasure and illicit gain seems exceedingly attractive, then come to Jesus. If you are burdened with your patterns of sin and weaknesses of character that affect your vocation as a spouse, a parent, a friend, a consecrated soul, a Christian…, then come to Jesus. If life seems unfair and God seems distant at best, then come to Jesus. He calls us not to a set of principles and noble ideals, but to his very person. We do not follow rules for the sake of rules; we follow Jesus. Only when we have first come to him will we understand the need for the rules which simply help protect the dignity of this relationship.
  2. Learn from Me:St. Paul admonishes the Galatians to live in the freedom of Christ: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Yet in his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul invites us to be “slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (6:5). To be a slave means that I submit to the will of another or am subordinated (unwillingly) to one stronger than I in some way. One who is a slave of passion, vanity, selfishness or any other vice is subject to that vice as something more powerful than oneself. But Jesus calls us friends and not slaves (cf. John 15:14-15). So to be a “slave” of Christ means to entrust my life to him freely with the intention of following where he leads. Experience shows that he always guides us down the path that leads to our happiness and fulfillment, even when it entails the cross.
  3. Rest for Yourselves:These words mean “rest,” not in the sense of cessation from work and struggle, but in the sense of peace of soul, joy and profound happiness. This is the rest that we all long for, the rest that will one day be uninterrupted in the bliss of heaven. We have each met individuals who experience this peace and joy despite their circumstances. Notice that Jesus does not promise to take away the burdens, the trials, the sufferings. But if we take his yoke upon ourselves, if we submit to his plan, his will, his love, he guarantees the joy. If you have never experienced it, then begin today; give him what you know in your heart he is asking of you. Although it may hurt at first, as does every yoke, this one brings the lightness of peace and the ease of joy.

Conversation with Christ: Blessed Lord, you lead me towards everlasting peace if I will simply follow, but following does not always seem simple. Give me the very things you ask of me: faith, generosity, courage, trust, love. With these gifts and your grace I will have the strength necessary for the journey.

Resolution: Today I will pray an extra decade of the rosary for the persons who are farthest away from Jesus.

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LIGHT BURDEN – “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” – Matthew 11:30

First, you must know that you will always have a yoke, a burden, while you’re here on earth. Following Jesus doesn’t mean you will be “yokeless” or “burdenless.”

But the big difference is that Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden, light.

Take note that there are two meanings of “light.” There’s light, which is the opposite of darkness; and light, which is the opposite of heavy. Notice, too, that when you carry something “in the dark,” even if it seems easy, it will become difficult and heavy. That’s because you’re blind. You’re directionless. You’re carrying that load without meaning or purpose.

But when there’s light, there’s direction, meaning and purpose. No matter how heavy your load is, it will become easy and much more fulfilling.

When a mother is pregnant, that’s a heavy load. Yet, it seems light because that baby inside gives “light” to her. When a father works hard for a living, that’s difficult. But seeing his family happy makes it light.

You want to make your burden light? Then carry it with Jesus. He makes it light as He lights it up! Alvin Barcelona (

Reflection: Invite Jesus to carry your burden with you.

Jesus, I come to You now with my heavy burdens. I humbly ask that You carry them with me. I rest in Your love. Amen.


One Bread, One Body – Reflection for July 16, 2015


“Your souls will find rest.” –Matthew 11:29

We disciples labor under the yoke of Jesus (Mt 11:30; Lk 9:23). Jesus therefore calls us to rest in Him (Mt 11:29), yet even that demands effort on our part. Each day we have to “strive to enter into that rest” (Heb 4:11). Mysteriously, disciples often rest better when they are most diligent.

There’s a balance to entering Jesus’ rest. We can’t strive too hard, for our efforts alone are futile (Is 26:17-18). We must let God’s rest be done unto us (Lk 1:38). We yield to His grace, but avoid laziness, since we must cooperate with God’s grace by accepting Jesus’ yoke and bearing His burden (Mt 11:30).

Jesus Himself had no place to rest His head (Lk 9:58). This probably refers to more than a bed. Jesus also had no place to Himself. His “place” was constant interruptions, a lack of privacy, a life on the move, etc. Like Jesus, we embrace our cross of fatigue and weariness. Amid our fatigue, we have a fountain of life and rest which never runs dry. That “rest” is not found by those who take shortcuts or evade the cross. It’s found by those who keep walking the path of Calvary, push through the cross, and discover that, in the place where He was crucified, there is a garden (Jn 19:41). In that garden, found only at the foot of the cross, is found the “rest” and the strength to endure.

St. Augustine said: “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in Thee.” “Come to” Jesus (Mt 11:28). Enter into His rest.

PRAYER: Jesus, help me not to rest when I should be serving You (Mt 26:43-45) or to work when I should be resting in You (Ps 127:2; Ex 31:15). Only in You “is my soul at rest” (Ps 62:1).

PROMISE: “My yoke is easy and My burden light.” –Mt 11:30

PRAISE: Teresa, a Carmelite, prays the divine office each day on the bus as she commutes to work.


July 16, 2015

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time B

Ex 3:13-20, Mt 11: 28-30

Rest for Your Souls

The “yoke” was part of the harness used to pull a cart, plough, or mill beam. The instrument was the means by which the animals’ master kept them under control and guided them in useful work. The term “yoke” came to be used as a metaphor for submission, usually to a teacher. But here, Jesus’ use of the metaphor carried a deeper meaning.

The yoke was used to bring the strength of two animals together in order to pull a load that was impossible for one animal to pull on its own. For Jesus the yoke was the Jewish law and other standards imposed upon by the religious leaders of the day on the ordinary people who found it impossible to carry. They split the Moses’ law into innumerable parts even to the extent of losing its spirit and essence and multiplied them in order to subjugate the people to their authority and to make them totally and unquestionably subservient to them. The same strategy is being still continued by the today’s religious leaders through numerous rules and rubrics in liturgy, countless variety of devotions and prayer series in the spiritual life affecting the worship and lifestyle of ordinary faithful.

In the language of the New Testament, the word “labour” carried the idea of working to the point of utter exhaustion. The term “heavy laden” indicated that, at some time in the past, a great load had been dumped on a person and the individual was continuing to bear the load. Many people carry the same burden today. The pressure often manifests itself in strained relationships, depression, stress, feelings of inadequacy, and other conditions. They seek to get rid of the burden by trying harder, climbing the career ladder, impressing other people, taking on more jobs, adding new spiritual disciplines and exercises imposed upon them by spiritual directors and retreat masters and more. Underlying all these efforts is a drive to win the approval of God and others. Jesus used the yoke to show people the impossibility of measuring up to God’s standard. No person can make a grade high enough to merit heaven or to acquire more spiritual and temporal benefits from God. Attempting to do so is both frustrating and exhausting.

The two animals on which the yoke was placed were different. One of the animals subjected to the yoke used to be always more experienced than the other. The experienced one trains the unlearned member of the team providing the direction, leadership and help.  As in the case of the animal pair with anyone who comes to him, Jesus earned the right to become the experienced member of the team in the yoke through his total surrender to the Will of the Father and subsequent death and resurrection.

God’s standard for getting into heaven remains at the level of perfection. Jesus said, “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Knowing the standard was impossible for us to reach, God loved us so much that he came to us in Christ. For 33 years Jesus did what we could not do. He met God’s standard. He made the grade. Now, like then, He invites individuals to come and get in his yoke and let Him be their credentials for acceptance by God!

Jesus who has become our partner in carrying the burden is “gentle” and “lowly in heart” while their religious leader who exhibited extraordinary pride, love for places of honour, special titles, never shared their burden but exercised their authority on them.
Our cooperative effort together with Jesus would result in a refreshing experience for his tired followers with the assurance of “rest for your souls” that pointed to an unceasing sense of well-being with regard to one’s relationship to God.

How can we submit to the Saviour’s yoke? The answer is found in the command “to learn from me.” He is calling us to serve, but we work and serve in the strength which He gives. He is always there beside us pulling the weight for us, if we will only yield our lives to Him. The only time the load becomes overbearing is when we try to take over and do the pulling, or handle the load ourselves.

Many of us resist and back off when He seeks to slip the yoke around our necks to join Him.  We also refuse to trust in His gentleness and goodness. When we look at the yoke we think that it does not fit for us even though it is tailor made for us in order to make us like Him. Dr. John Ollukaran CMI


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Thursday of the 14th Week of the Year

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