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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

My Yoke Is Easy (Thought for the Day Part 42)

Gospel reading: Matthew 11:28-30

We all have our problems in life. We all have our difficulties and challenges in Christian service. With disappointments, frustrations and defeats, we at times might even be ready to give up. We complain to Jesus, wondering why this is what we get for serving him. Hear Jesus say, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (v.30).

Jesus does not deny that there is a yoke and a burden. That is part of the package. He in fact forewarns those who desire to follow him. But then, this yoke is easy and this burden light.

Why might it seem otherwise at times?

First, when the burden we take on is not from Jesus. He says, “Take my yoke upon you” (v.29a). Many burdens we have in life are self-imposed or self-inflicted. Life, including Christian service, ought to be simple but we complicate it. If we desire so much the things of the world and if we expend ourselves in pursuit of these things, if we take on the mind of the world in our service, then inevitably many undesirable difficulties will arise.

Second, when we fail to be yoked with Jesus. Again he says, “Take my yoke upon you” (v.29a). The yoke is a neck brace by which two oxen pull the plow. The Christian life, a call to perfection, is certainly difficult (impossible without Jesus). But we are not left to our own devices. Jesus, who tells us how we are to live, also accompanies us, guides us, helps us, even carries our burden. Jesus is our friend, partner, collaborator, helper.

Third, when we fail to learn the lessons Jesus is teaching us. He says, “and learn from me” (v.29b). Trials and suffering are always salvific. They help to purify us, to humble us, to make us cling more to God. Instead of complaining, we should ask Jesus to show us why he allows us to be burdened. When we are yoked with Jesus, there is a purpose for everything that happens to us. Suffering and pain give us wisdom and a clearer direction on our path to heaven.

Fourth, as we have not yet learned how to be refreshed by the Spirit of Jesus. He says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (v.28). Jesus is a hard taskmaster, but he is also a very loving Master. It is actually he who serves us, who washes our feet, who gives us himself in the Eucharist. It is he who comforts us in our affliction. Jesus empathizes with us, and what greater empathy can come than from one who allowed himself to be crucified for our sins.

Fifth, as we have not taken on the mind and heart of Jesus. He says, “for I am meek and humble of heart” (v.29c). As we are yoked with Jesus, we look to him and are reminded of how he bore the wooden crossbeam on his shoulders. Suffering humbles us, cuts us down in our pride, makes us less self-dependent. Suffering brings meekness, a strength of character by which we can endure with patience and without resentment. Jesus empathizes with us, but we also empathize with Jesus, finally coming to a realization of his great act of self-sacrifice.

Feeling burdened lately? In Jesus “you will find rest for your selves.” (v.29d).

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