See, your king shall come to you… riding on a donkey. –Zechariah 9:9
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. –Matthew 11:30
I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a tendency to overthink things. Especially now in the time of Covid-19, when I have plenty of time to think, I find myself returning to events of the past day/year/lifetime where I feel like could have handled things much better. It’s very easy to find my sins of the past. And I often find myself ruminating (chewing over and over again) on these perceived mistakes.
So why do I bring this up in light of today’s readings? Some scholars believe that at the time of Jesus there were 613 individual commandments that a good Jew needed to abide by in order to be in right relationship with God. Given the trouble I have with ten, I can’t imagine how hard this would be. But what does Jesus have to say about this?
First let’s look at the reading from Zachariah: “See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass.” As Christians, we see this as a prophecy, a foretelling of Jesus entering Jerusalem in a donkey. if you look up the symbolism of a donkey you’ll find in Wikipedia “Narrative turning points in the Bible (and other stories) are often marked through the use of donkeys — for instance, leading, saddling, or mounting/dismounting a donkey are used to show a change in focus or a decision having been made.” So, some change is indicated by Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey.
Next, in the Gospel Jesus says, “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.” Jesus is encouraging us to make a change. For we must take off our current yoke to take up His. So, what are these yokes? I think the old yoke is not so much the 613 laws of the Torah or the Ten Commandments but the self-doubt and recrimination that comes from doubting our relationship with God. That voice that is constantly whispering in our ears that we are not good enough, active enough, worthy enough, to be loved by God.
And what is the yoke of Jesus? Love. Love God. Love your neighbor. And love yourself.
My prayer today is that I listen to my Lord and lay down the yoke of fear and sin and take up His yoke of Love.
Along with working as an independent teacher, Talib Huff volunteers and works at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California. You may contact him at [email protected].