Rom 8:9, 11-13
Mt 11:25-30 (100)
In today’s Gospel, our Lord speaks plainly and openly to us, his children. Indeed entire books have been written about these few lines and the many revelations that they hold. Jesus speaks of his relationship and knowledge of "Father" in a way that suggests their intimacy and their oneness, and therefore, our Lord’s own divinity. And though this may seem like a complicated idea to understand, this knowledge of the path to God is, in fact, not reserved for educated scholars. Jesus tells us, ". . . for though you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, you have revealed them to the childlike."
But it is the concluding portion of this passage where so much attention has been focused: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest . . . [f]or my yoke is easy, and my burden light." Can this possibly be true? We can certainly imagine so many of our burdens that we would like to unload-our bills, our difficult jobs, our failing relationships. And, in truth, our Lord does offer respite from these things. No, Christ may not be writing out our rent checks, but what about the strength we find in the face of suffering? What about the friend who comes through for us when we thought all hope had been lost? Our Lord’s divine help is always available to us.
What may be the more radical concept to accept is that devotion to Christ should not itself be viewed as an encumbrance. The literal meaning of a "yoke" is a device meant to harness two animals together, for example, in tilling a field. When we put our faith in Christ, we are joining ourselves to Him. In this way, Christ literally shoulders our burdens. Our Lord promises us rest from the exhaustion of a life lived apart from Him. How much more daunting is the yoke of sin? Or perhaps to put it in more contemporary context-how much heavier is the burden of devotion to the almighty dollar? Devotion to competition with our piers? Or devotion to our own self-pride?
While the message is of great importance, the manner of its delivery is equally important. Jesus makes this a call-a request or an invitation to follow him and lay down our troubles. Simply put, we have a choice. We can take the rocky road of total self-reliance, or we can follow Jesus. And it’s not a choice that we may make one time. We may continually find ourselves taking up the weight of self-indulgence (or whatever our personal burden may be) over our Lord’s offer of a much lighter yoke. Remember that suffering and death were never a part of God’s plan for us. With free will comes the ability to choose a path. Let us choose the path of true freedom-devotion to Christ.