14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
5th JuLY 2020
Year A – Psalter week 2
My yoke is easy, and my burden light.
In today’s gospel we hear the following consoling words from Jesus: “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes my yoke is easy and my burden light.” In using these words, Jesus equates himself with “wisdom” in the Old Testament, which calls out: “Draw near to me… put your neck under her yoke, and let your soul receive instruction… See with your own eyes that I have laboured little and found for myself much serenity” (Sirach 51:23, 26, 27).
In the ancient near east, a yoke was a piece of wood that would be placed upon oxen, for example, in order for them to pull a plough. If a yoke was ill-fitting, then not only would the ploughing process be inefficient, but it would also be very uncomfortable for the animals as they tried to pull the plough along and may even cause them harm. In using this analogy, Jesus is saying that while following him does involve self-denial and the taking up of one’s cross (cf. Matthew 16:24), the yoke of discipleship that he places upon us will never be ill-fitting or cause us harm. In fact, he promises we will experience his yoke as easy and his burden as light.
This teaching is, I believe, a key principle of discernment in our life as disciples. If I try to follow Jesus and serve others in my own strength then, of course, the yoke of discipleship will be difficult and the burden heavy. So often we can fall into this trap, which is not surprising considering how many of us have experienced ill-fitting yokes of this fallen world, such as, for example, the in-ordinate demands of some employers nowadays. Taking Jesus at his word, however, this would indicate that either the yoke we are trying to carry has not been placed upon us by Him, or we are trying to do things using only our own limited human resources. It could even be that Jesus has indeed called us to a particular task, but that we then try to take on more than he has asked of us.
The key to experiencing Jesus’ yoke as easy and his burden as light is living life not in our own strength, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus would not place upon our lives any call that does not suit who we are in Him, and He would not withhold the grace needed to fulfil that calling. An obvious example of this is found in the lives of the English and Welsh martyrs. Being involved in vocations work, I have often marvelled at the young men who, during the 16th and 17th centuries, studied at seminaries abroad, and who knew that upon their return to these shores as Catholic priests would face certain death if caught practicing their faith. Many were indeed martyred and yet they went to their deaths with joy! In their own strength, this would have been impossible. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, however, they received the grace that they needed at the time to fulfil their mission in Jesus.
Sunday Message and Look
Download this weeks Sunday Message and Look (for our younger parishioners) by clicking on the images, for all the readings for this week, as well as the prayers during mass and the usual weekly thoughts and reflections.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to mere children. Alleluia!