July 15th, 2021

The Gospel according to Matthew (11:28-30)

“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.”

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to labor for you while I am able and rest in you for eternity.

Encountering Christ: There is a place in Sierra Madre nestled up against Angeles National Forest that I consider holy ground.  In addition to the obvious reasons this is true there are personal ones as well.  My grandfather, father, brother, and many others I admire and influence(d) my life have walked the beautiful grounds of the Mater Dolorosa Retreat Sanctuary.  It was there I experienced one of the most profound, sublime moments of peace.  I was hiking the trail up behind the buildings and found a spot, not quite at the top but high enough, and found a stone bench carved out of the mountain side.  I sat there and stared down at the 210 freeway and humanity as far as the eye could see.  However, the only sound I could hear is the wind and I felt peaceful rest.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could experience this more frequently?

In this brief passage from Matthew’s gospel Jesus invites us to come to Him so he can give us rest.  Then in what appears to be a change in the opposite direction He also offers us His yoke.  I don’t know about you, but I am all in for the first part of the offer, but not so much for the second part.  Just do a Google image search of a yoke and you will see why.

But as usual, we must discern what Jesus is truly offering.  He says two things.  First, take His yoke and learn to be meek and humble of heart, like Him.  The second is that His yoke is easy, and His burden light.  Isn’t it interesting that the implement He chooses to use so He can teach us is a yoke?  Did you Google yoke?  If you did like I did the images are overwhelmingly a yoke for two.  So far this makes sense to me.  If Jesus’ wants to share a yoke with us then this is a pretty sweet offer because He would constantly be at our side.  However, the proposition of being yoked still leaves a bit to be desired.

So, in order to help us with this image Jesus says that His yoke is easy.  Why does he say that and are we capable of perceiving and accepting this description?  Maybe we can look at this based on our own life experiences.  When we walk close with Jesus, we are able to receive the grace we need to carry our cross.  When walk far from Jesus we either struggle to carry our cross or walk away from it all together.  Jesus is our strength, He provides us with all we need for this sometimes arduous journey, if we choose.

So, the idea of being yoked with Jesus is a match made in heaven, literally.  If we choose the yoke he offers we will remain by His side.  Not so He can control our lives and force us in any direction but instead so we can learn to be meek and humble like Him.  It is in the grace of His presence that we are able to bear the weight and still find the ability and even desire to seek and find peace.  It is in the presence of The Son of God that we will be led into the presence of God and in that peace find rest.

One day we will walk through the door of death and in the presence of God Our Father have the possibility of eternal peace.  In the meantime, let us yoke ourselves to Christ and through the good and bad, the blessings and trials, travel by the side of Jesus and experience the peaceful rest that is only possible through a heart that is meek and humble.

Closing Prayer: Dear Jesus, as our constant companion you make all things bearable even when we think we are not able.  Thank you for the reminder that your yoke is easy and your burden light when we rely on the grace of your presence.

Action for the Day: There is someone who needs this reminder that Jesus is by their side.  Be the vessel that carries this reminder to them until they are able to recognize His presence in the yoke they carry. 

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