Taking Christ’s yoke…
Some time ago, I joined several ministers and priests in a pilgrimage to Greece and Turkey dubbed as In the Footsteps of St. Paul. When we arrived in Athens, our tour guide gave each one of us a komboli, known outside of Greece as worry beads. In that part of the world, the souvenir string of beads is said to be resorted to in times of worry, boredom and tension. In our Christian tradition, we have our own version of the Holy Rosary which is used not only as an aid for prayer but as an emblem of our faith. In a way, we tend to resort more to prayer in times of trials and tribulations. We tend to cry out for God’s intervention when we find ourselves carrying seemingly unbearable burdens. Our faith dictates that we are open to God in prayer in good times and in bad.
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus proposes an alternative way of dealing with life when it seems overburdened by trouble and anxiety. Let me quote straight from the Sacred Heart of Jesus: 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.”
Jesus proposes to us an approach to life’s challenges based on the spirit of humility and reliance on God’s strength and power. The approach is founded on a life that is open to God, with whom we can let go off our burdens. It is anchored on a spirituality that sees crosses as glorious crosses. It is inspired by a life that that has used the cross as a symbol victory. It is a lifestyle that sees problems as opportunities for growth and maturity, believing that God always makes use of crises and difficulties in our lives as ways of making us seek His kingdom more closely and more personally.
It is a different approach to what our world offers with its sense of control, domination and violence. It is the way of love instead of domination, of letting go instead of controlling, of peace and nonviolence instead of violence. By his becoming human, he humbles himself to encounter us as one of us, sharing our burdens and welcoming all who come to him. Jesus offers his own kind of yoke that lightens our life’s burdens and shows us the way to eternal life. A yoke is a tool that enables the one who uses it to manage a burden that would be impossible without it.