July 16, 2020, Thursday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30
‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Not many of us (myself included) have ever plowed a field with a yoke of oxen, churning the soil to prepare it for planting. But all of us have sat in a classroom, writing in notebooks, taking tests, or watching the hands of the clock sweep off the minutes until the bell would ring. In fact, the classroom image is closer to what Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel passage. Consider this other Scripture text, “. . . gain, at no cost, wisdom for yourselves. Submit your neck to her yoke, that your mind may accept her teaching. For she is close to those who seek her, and the one who is in earnest finds her” (Sir. 51:25-26.) This text aligns wisdom with being under a yoke. That image is in the background of Jesus’ saying that his burden is light.
Jesus is inviting us to go to his school, the school of his wisdom. Rabbis back then spoke of their “yoke.” A disciple took on, followed in, his rabbi’s yoke. Today’s Gospel needs to be read together with yesterday’s, in which Jesus tells us about knowing his Father. Only Jesus reveals the Father to us. That is where wisdom lies. In the school of Jesus, in the yoke of Jesus, we can learn about what really matters.
In today’s society, education offers people a boost up the ladder of success. That is surely important to pursue in the business of making a living. But what about making a life? Our Lord offers us the knowledge we need to succeed in making a life. He imparts knowledge freely to anyone who wants it. In fact, the word translated in English as “easy” means “well-fitted” or “well-suited,” as if to say Jesus’ yoke is custom-made to fit us naturally. Taking on his yoke, his schooling, which fits us, —- makes us free, makes us live lightly.
Jesus, you are the Teacher of truth, Wisdom incarnate. Yoke me to what really matters most: love, faith, hope, and truth, for then I will truly be free and live lightly.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.”