Taking His Yoke

Matthew 11:28-30
Ex 3:13-20 / Psa 105

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.
(Matthew 11:29)

With hope of eternal reward,
Serving You, Lord is our delight;
Though burdens in life may seem hard,
The yoke of Your love makes it light.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus invited the Jews to free themselves from the oppression of traditional Jewish customs and laws, and instead take upon themselves the New Covenant of His love and the Good News of salvation. He invited them to “Come to me,” knowing that they have become tired of the old traditions that the scribes and Pharisees have been laying on their shoulders but “they themselves do not lift a finger to move” (Mt.23:4).

At the same time, our Lord was also calling to Himself those who were burdened by sin, because Jesus cared for the sinners, the ‘lost sheep’ for whom He came to earth for their freedom and salvation. And from their ranks, Jesus would eventually choose His servant-leaders, for “the harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few” (Mt.9:37).

What is this “yoke” that our Lord invites us to carry? From this yoke we will learn gentleness and humility, and will find rest for our souls. It is the yoke of obedience to His teachings in the Gospel. By His Word, we will learn to imitate His gentle spirit, and the wisdom of His humble ways. Then, once we have become closer to Him, it will be for us as the song goes, “My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him…”

The hope of salvation makes it easy to obey all the commandments of God, and to bear the work of serving in Christ’s ‘vineyard’. Actually, there are two kinds of work: one for the pursuit of material gain or personal fame; and the other for the purpose of serving God by proclaiming the Gospel, and/or helping others, especially those who most need our help. The work that we do for God is infinitely more rewarding, for its wages will be paid in heaven. In the first reading, Yahweh God commanded Moses to take the yoke of leadership to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, with the assurance that he would succeed in his mission.

Service is not work, nor is it an obligation. It is freely given, and it is always easy and light. That is because we give service out of love – for others, and obedience to God’s will.

There are many civic clubs and humanitarian organizations offering opportunities for serving others. But they all merely serve to alleviate physical suffering, and are at best only for this lifetime. It is different when the job that we put in is not merely for temporal benefits, but for eternal gain, i.e., for the conversion of an unbeliever or the repentance of a sinner. Being involved in such a transformation is a priceless profit for our toils. Serving the Lord by winning a soul is such a source of joy and inspiration that one will always want to do it all over again. This is what our Lord Jesus meant – that in His service there is no such thing as a heavy task or a difficult assignment. Love always makes any job easy and light.

They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. (Isaiah 40:31) We thank You, Father God, for the hope of eternal life that strengthens us for the work ahead. Amen.

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