Trading My Yoke for His

Posted by James Hahn on

Today's Gospel is three sentences, three.  Yet there is so much packed into those three sentences we
could spend days talking about it.

Jesus said: "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." (Matthew 11:28-30)

My initial thoughts are: Who isn't burdened and laboring in some way?  What sort of rest?  What do you mean by yoke?  What does meekness and being humble have to do with labor, burden, and rest?  Why the yoke again?  So, am I trading one burden for another?  What makes your burden better than the one I currently have?

I believe it's good to ask these questions.  It's good to read the passage a few times, image yourself sitting, listening to Jesus, and then ask questions.  That's what people did when He walked the earth.  Read any chapter from the books of the Gospel and you'll see this.  Keep in mind that Jesus also asked questions of those around Him and He'll ask questions of you and me as well.

I think His questions for me would be:  Why are you carrying around that burden?  And for so long, how many years now?  Is that a yoke you really want to be attached to?  Would you like for me to help you carry your burden?  What sort of rest would you enjoy most?  Is what you see as a heavy burden actually one that is really light?  Does your view of burdens need to shift?

That next to last question is the one I find most interesting because throughout my life I've found that the way I view situations makes a big difference as to whether I think something is a burden or not.  I would even go so far as to say that my view of burdens can dramatically change depending on the state of my soul.

For instance, when I am living a grace filled life of prayer, sacraments, and trying to love every person as though they were Jesus, I find the Church's teachings on sexuality a great joy.  At these times I fully embrace the teachings and find inexpressible beauty in their wisdom.  However, when I am living a selfish life, when I am not in a state of grace, when I am not loving others as though they were Christ...these very same teachings are a heavy burden.  I feel myself writhe and struggle under their weight.   I resent them and even hate them during these times.  The teachings are the same.  It's I who have changed and so how I perceive the burden changes.

To me this is a great example of what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel.  The burdens of life won't change.  They won't magically disappear because I pray or go to Mass.  No, rather, they will become bearable, light even with the help of the Lord.  The grace of God gives us a new vision, a new strength to bear our burdens.  Only through the power of God's grace can we see difficult situations as light burdens or even gifts!  Think of those suffering with unbearable pain from injury or sickness who see their situation as gift from the Lord!  How can this be except by grace!!

So how can we get better at carrying our burden and embracing our yoke?  The obvious answer is frequent confession, frequent communion, and frequent, daily, conversation with the Lord.  It is during that daily conversation with Jesus that we can learn to be "meek and humble of heart."  Therein lies the answer, the key to seeing even the most heavy burden, the most brutal yoke of the cross as easy and light.  We must learn to be like Him, meek and humble of heart.

FROM THE SAINTS - "Any other burden oppresses and crushes you, but Christ's actually takes weight off you. Any other burden weighs down, but Christ's gives you wings. If you take a bird's wings away, you might seem to be taking weight off it, but the more weight you take off, the more you tie it down to the earth. There it is on the ground, and you wanted to relieve it of a weight; give it back the weight of its wings and you will see how it flies!" - Saint Augustine

How to get better at prayer.
  1. Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
  2. Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go.  Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
  3. Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days.  Mark off the days on your calendar.  If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
  4. Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him.  I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development.  God is the same way.  Spend time praying as best you can.  Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation.  Don't forget to listen!
  5. Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life.  It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
  6. Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer PrimerDeep Conversion, Deep PrayerTime for GodThe Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.
* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

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